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Presented    by  'Ws{  \t4r^^"S . ^^Cx7\ AdO VOVA  cAr\. 

Division ^^dP^L3 

&<:/;w ^T^^^  --^ 



I     ^-~_ : 


MAR     1  2005 






THE    author's    last    EDITION    IN    FRENCH, 


Noil  tainen  oniiiiiio  potuit  mors  invida  totum 
Tollere  Calvinum  terris  ;  acterna  mar.ebunt 
Iiigenii  monumenta  tiii :  ct  livoris  irii(iui 
Languida  paulatim  cum  flamma  rcscdoiit,  omnes 
Religio  qua  pura  nitut  se  funilot  in  oias 
Fama  tui Uuchana.v. 



VOL.    II. 

MAR     1  2005 








For  the  further  elucidation  of  this  subject,  let  us  examine 
what  kind  of  righteousness  can  be  found  in  men  during  the 
whole  course  of  their  lives.  Let  us  divide  them  into  four 
classes.  For  either  they  are  destitute  of  the  knowledge  of 
God,  and  immerged  in  idolatry ;  or,  having  been  initiated  by 
the  sacraments,  they  lead  impure  lives,  denying  God  in  their 
actions,  while  they  confess  him  with  their  lips,  and  belong  to 
Christ  only  in  name  ;  or  they  are  hypocrites,  concealing  the 
iniquity  of  their  hearts  with  vain  disguises ;  or,  being  regene- 
rated by  the  Spirit  of  God,  they  devote  themselves  to  true  holi- 
ness. In  the  first  of  these  classes,  judged  of  according  to  their 
natural  characters,  from  the  crown  of  the  head  to  the  sole  of 
the  foot  there  will  not  be  found  a  single  spark  of  goodness  ; 
unless  we  mean  to  charge  the  Scripture  with  falsehood  in 
these  representations  which  it  gives  of  all  the  sons  of  Adam  — 
that  "  the  heart  is  deceitful  above  all  things,  and  desperately 
wicked;  "  (w)  that  "every  imagination  of  man's  heart  is  evil 
from  his  youth ;  "  (x)  that  "  the  thoughts  of  man  are  vanity  ; 
that  there  is  no  fear  of  God  before  his  eyes;  "  (y)  that  "  there 
is  none  that  understandeth,  none  that  seeketh  after  God;  "  {z) 
in  a  word,  "that  he  is  flesh,"  (a)  a  term  expressive  of  all 
those  works  which  are  enumerated  by  Paul  —  "  adultery,  forni- 

(w)  Jer.  xvii.  9.  (x)  Gen.  vi.  5 ;  viii.  21.  (y);  xxxvi.  1. 

(z)  Psalm  xiv.  1—3.     Rom.  iii.  11.  (a)  Gen.  vi.  3. 

4  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

cation,  uiicleanness,  lascivioiisncss,  idolatry,  witchcraft,  hatred, 
variance,  emulations,  wrath,  strife,  seditions,  heresies,  envyings, 
murders,"  (6)  and  every  impurity  and  abomination  that  can  be 
conceived.  This  is  the  dignity,  in  the  confidence  of  which 
they  must  glory.  But  if  any  among  them  discover  that  in- 
tegrity in  their  conduct  which  among  men  has  some  appear- 
ance of  sanctity,  yet,  since  we  know  that  God  regards  not 
external  splendour,  we  must  penetrate  to  the  secret  springs  of 
these  actions,  if  we  wish  them  to  avail  any  thing  to  justifica- 
tion. We  must  narrowly  examine,  I  say,  from  what  disposi- 
tion of  heart  these  works  proceed.  Though  a  most  extensive 
field  of  observation  is  now  before  us,  yet,  since  the  subject 
may  be  despatched  in  very  few  words,  I  shall  be  as  compendi- 
ous as  possible. 

II.  In  the  first  place,  I  do  not  deny,  that  whatever  excellences 
appear  in  unbelievers,  they  are  the  gifts  of  God.  I  am  not 
so  at  variance  with  the  common  opinion  of  mankind,  as  to  con- 
tend that  there  is  no  difference  between  the  justice,  moderation, 
and  equity  of  Titus  or  Trajan,  and  the  rage,  intemperance,  and 
cruelty  of  Caligula,  or  Nero,  or  Uomitian  ;  between  the  obsce- 
nities of  Tiberius  and  the  continence  of  Vespasian  ;  and,  not  to 
dwell  on  particular  virtues  or  vices,  between  the  observance 
and  the  contempt  of  moral  obligation  and  positive  laws.  For 
so  great  is  the  diflerence  between  just  and  unjust,  that  it  is 
visible  even  in  the  lifeless  image  of  it.  For  what  order  will 
be  left  in  the  world,  if  these  opposites  be  confounded  together? 
Such  a  distinction  as  this,  therefore,  between  virtuous  and 
vicious  actions,  has  not  only  been  engraven  by  the  Lord  in 
the  heart  of  every  man,  but  has  also  been  frequently  confirmed 
by  his  providential  dispensations.  We  see  how  he  confers 
many  blessings  of  the  present  life  on  those  who  practise  virtue 
among  men.  Not  that  this  external  resemblance  of  virtue 
merits  the  least  favour  from  him ;  but  he  is  pleased  to  discover 
his  great  esteem  of  true  righteousness,  by  not  permitting  that 
which  is  external  and  hypocritical  to  remain  without  a  tem- 
poral reward.  Whence  it  follows,  as  we  have  just  acknow- 
ledged, that  these  virtues,  whatever  they  may  be,  or  rather 
images  of  virtues,  are  the  gifts  of  God  ;  since  there  is  nothing 
in  any  respect  laudable  which  does  not  proceed  from  him. 

III.  Nevertheless  the  observation  of  Augustine  is  strictly 
true  —  that  all  who  are  strangers  to  the  religion  of  the  one  true 
God,  however  they  may  be  esteemed  worthy  of  admiration  for 
their  reputed  virtue,  not  only  merit  no  reward,  but  are  rather 
deserving  of  punishment,  because  they  contaminate  the  pure 
gifts  of  God  with   the  pollution   of  their  own   hearts.     For 

{h)  Gal.  V.  19,  &c. 


though  thdy  are  instruments  used  by  God  for  the  preservation 
of  human  society,  by  tlie  exercise  of  justice,  continence,  friend- 
ship, temperance,  fortitude,  and  prudence,  yet  they  perform 
these  good  works  of  God  very  improperly ;  being  restrained 
from  the  commission  of  evil,  not  by  a  sincere  attachment  to 
true  virtue,  but  either  by  mere  ambition,  or  by  self-love,  or  by 
some  other  irregular  disposition.  These  actions,  therefore, 
being  corrupted  in  their  very  source  by  the  impurity  of  their 
hearts,  are  no  more  entitled  to  be  classed  among  virtues,  than 
those  vices  which  commonly  deceive  mankind  by  their  affinity 
and  similitude  to  virtues.  Besides,  when  we  remember  that 
the  end  of  what  is  right  is  always  to  serve  God,  whatever  is 
directed  to  any  other  end,  can  have  no  claim  to  that  appella- 
tion. Therefore,  since  they  regard  not  the  end  prescribed  by 
Divine  wisdom,  though  an  act  performed  by  them  be  externally 
and  apparently  good,  yet,  being  directed  to  a  wrong  end,  it 
becomes  sin.  He  concludes,  therefore,  that  all  the  Fabricii, 
Scipios,  and  Catos,  in  all  their  celebrated  actions,  were  guilty 
of  sin,  inasmuch  as,  being  destitute  of  the  light  of  faith,  they 
did  not  direct  those  actions  to  that  end  to  which  they  ought  to 
have  directed  them ;  that  consequently  they  had  no  genuine 
righteousness ;  because  moral  duties  are  estimated  not  by  ex- 
ternal actions,  but  by  the  ends  for  which  such  actions  are 

IV.  Besides,  if  there  be  any  truth  in  the  assertion  of  John, 
that  "  he  that  hath  not  the  Son  of  God,  hath  not  life  ;  "  (c) 
they  who  have  no  interest  in  Christ,  whatever  be  their  cha- 
racters, their  actions,  or  their  endeavours,  are  constantly  ad- 
vancing, through  the  whole  course  of  their  lives,  towards 
destruction  and  the  sentence  of  eternal  death.  On  this  ar- 
gument is  founded  the  following  observation  of  Augustine  : 
"  Our  religion  discriminates  between  the  righteous  and  the  un- 
righteous, not  by  the  law  of  works,  but  by  that  of  faith,  without 
which  works  apparently  good  are  perverted  into  sins."  Where- 
fore the  same  writer,  in  another  place,  strikingly  compares  the 
exertions  of  such  men  to  a  deviation  in  a  race  from  the  pre- 
scribed course.  For  the  more  vigorously  any  one  runs  out  of 
the  way,  he  recedes  so  much  the  further  from  the  goal,  and 
becomes  so  much  the  more  unfortunate.  Wherefore  he  con- 
tends, that  it  is  better  to  halt  in  the  way,  than  to  run  out  of  the 
way.  /  Finally,  it  is  evident  that  they  are  evil  trees,  since  with- 
out a  participation  of  Christ  there  is  no  sanctification.l  They 
may  produce  fruits  fair  and  beautiful  to  the  eye,  and  even  sweet 
to  the  taste,  but  never  any  that  are  good.  Hence  we  clearly 
perceive  that  all  the  thoughts,  meditations,  and  actions  of  man, 

(c)  1  John  V.  12. 


antecedent  to  a  reconciliation  to  God  by  faith,  are  accursed, 
and  not  only  of  no  avail  to  justification,  but  certainly  deserving 
of  condemnation.  But  why  do  we  dispute  concerning  it  as  a 
dubious  point,  w^ien  it  is  already  proved  by  the  testimony  of  the 
apostle,  that  "  without  faith  it  is  impossible  to  please  God  ?  "  (d) 
V.  But  the  proof  will  be  still  clearer,  if  the  grace  of  God  be 
directly  opposed  to  the  natural  condition  of  man.  The  Scrip- 
ture invariably  proclaims,  that  God  finds  nothing  in  men  which 
can  incite  him  to  bless  them,  but  that  he  prevents  them  by  his 
gratuitous  goodness.  For  what  can  a  dead  man  do  to  recover 
life  ?  But  when  God  illuminates  us  with  the  knowledge  of 
himself,  he  is  said  to  raise  us  from  death,  and  to  make  us  new 
creatures,  (e)  For  under  this  character  we  find  the  Divine 
goodness  towards  us  frequently  celebrated,  especially  by  the 
apostle.  "  God,"  says  he,  "  who  is  rich  in  mercy,  for  his  great 
love  wherewith  he  loved  us,  even  when  we  were  dead  in  sins, 
hath  quickened  us  together  with  Christ,"  &c.  (/)  In  another 
place,  when,  under  the  type  of  Abraham,  he  treats  of  the  general 
calling  of  believers,  he  says.  It  is  "  God,  who  quickeneth  the 
dead,  and  calleth  those  things  which  be  not  as  though  they 
were."(g-)  If  we  are  nothing,  what  can  we  do?  Wherefore 
God  forcibly  represses  this  presumption,  in  the  Book  of  Job,  in 
the  following  words :  "  Who  hath  prevented  me,  that  I  should 
repay  him?  Whatsoever  is  under  the  whole  heaven  is 
mine."(/i)  Paul,  explaining  this  passage,  concludes  from  it, 
that  we  ought  not  to  suppose  we  bring  any  thing  to  the  Lord 
but  ignominious  indigence  and  emptiness,  (i)  Wherefore,  in 
the  passage  cited  above,  in  order  to  prove  that  we  attain  to  the 
hope  of  salvation,  not  by  works,  but  solely  by  the  grace  of  God, 
he  alleges,  that  "  we  are  his  workmanship,  created  in  Christ 
Jesus  unto  good  works,  which  God  hath  before  ordained  that 
we  should  walk  in  them."  (k)  As  though  he  would  say,  Who 
of  us  can  boast  that  he  has  influenced  God  by  his  right- 
eousness, since  our  first  power  to  do  well  proceeds  from  re- 
generation ?  For,  according  to  the  constitution  of  our  nature, 
oil  might  be  extracted  from  a  stone  sooner  than  we  could 
perform  a  good  work.  It  is  wonderful,  indeed,  that  man, 
condemned  to  such  ignominy,  dares  to  pretend  to  have  any 
thing  left.  Let  us  confess,  therefore,  with  that  eminent  servant 
of  the  Lord,  that  "God  hath  saved  us,  and  called  us  with  a 
holy  calling,  not  according  to  our  works,  but  according  to  his 
own  purpose  and  grace  ;  "  (Z)  and  that  "  the  kindness  and  love 
of  God  our  Saviour  towards  man  appeared,"  because  "  not  by 
works  of  righteousness  which  we  have  done,  but  according  to 

^rf)  Heb.  xi.  6.  (/)  Eph.  ii.  4,  5.  (h)  Job  xli.  11.  (A)  Ephes.  ii.  10. 

(e_)  John  V.  25.  (g)  Rom.  iv.  17.  (i)  Rom.  xi.  35.  (!)  2  Tim.  i.  9. 


his  mercy  he  saved  us ;  that  being  justified  by  his  grace,  we 
should  be  made  heirs  of  eternal  life."(w)  By  this  confession 
we  divest  man  of  all  righteousness,  even  to  the  smallest  particle, 
till  through  mere  mercy  he  has  been  regenerated  to  the  hope  of 
eternal  life ;  for  if  a  righteousness  of  works  contributed  any 
thing  to  our  justification,  we  are  not  truly  said  to  be  "justified 
by  grace."  The  apostle,  when  he  asserted  justification  to  be 
by  grace,  had  certainly  not  forgotten  his  argument  in  another 
place,  that  "if  it  be  of  works,  then  it  is  no  more  grace."  (?i) 
And  what  else  does  our  Lord  intend,  when  he  declares,  "  I  am 
not  come  to  call  the  righteous,  but  sinners  ?  "  (o)  If  sinners 
only  are  admitted,  why  do  we  seek  to  enter  by  a  counterfeit 
righteousness  ? 

VI.  The  same  thought  frequently  recurs  to  me,  that  I  am  in 
danger  of  injuring  the  mercy  of  God,  by  labouring  with  so 
much  anxiety  in  the  defence  of  this  doctrine,  as  though  it  were 
doubtful  or  obscure.  But  such  being  our  malignity,  that,  unless 
it  be  most  powerfully  subdued,  it  never  allows  to  God  that 
which  belongs  to  him,  I  am  constrained  to  dwell  a  little  longer 
upon  it.  But  as  the  Scripture  is  sufficiently  perspicuous  on 
this  subject,  t  shall  use  its  language  in  preference  to  my  own. 
Isaiah,  after  having  described  the  universal  ruin  of  mankind, 
properly  subjoins  the  method  of  recovery.  "  The  Lord  saw  it, 
and  it  displeased  him  that  there  was  no  judgment.  And  he  saw 
that  there  was  no  man,  and  wondered  that  there  was  no  interces- 
sor :  therefore  his  own  arm  brought  salvation  unto  him  ;  and  his 
righteousness  it  sustained  hnn."  [p)  Where  are  our  righteous- 
nesses, if  it  be  true,  as  the  prophet  says,  that  no  one  assists  the 
Lord  in  procuring  his  salvation  ?  So  another  prophet  introduces 
the  Lord  speaking  of  the  reconciliation  of  sinners  to  himself,  say- 
ing, "  I  will  betroth  thee  unto  me  for  ever,  in  righteousness,  and 
in  judgment,  and  in  loving-kindness,  and  in  mercies.  1  will 
have  mercy  upon  her  that  had  not  obtahied  mercy."  {q)  If  this 
covenant,  which  is  evidently  our  first  union  with  God,  depend 
on  his  mercy,  there  remains  no  foundation  for  our  righteousness. 
And  I  should  really  wish  to  be  informed  by  those,  who  pretend 
that  man  advances  to  meet  God  with  some  righteousness  of 
works,  whether  there  be  any  righteousness  at  all,  but  that  which 
is  accepted  by  God.  If  it  be  madness  to  entertain  such  a  thought, 
what  that  is  acceptable  to  God  can  proceed  from  his  enemies, 
who,  with  all  their  actions,  are  the  objects  of  his  complete 
abhorrence  ?  And  that  we  are  all  the  inveterate  and  avowed 
enemies  of  our  God,  till  we  are  justified  and  received  into  his 
friendship,  is  an  undeniable  truth,  (r)     If  justification  be  the 

im)  Titus  iii.  4,  5,  7.         (o)  Matt.  ix.  13.  {q)  Hosea  ii.  19,  23. 

(w)    Rom.  xi.  6.  (p)  Isaiah  lix.  15,  16.  (r)  Rom.  v.  6,  10.    Col.i.  21. 

8  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IliC 

principle  from  which  love  originates,  what  righteousnesses  of 
works  can  precede  it  ?  To  destroy  that  pestilent  arrogance, 
therefore,  John  carefully  apprizes  us  that  "  we  did  not  first  love 
him."  (s)  And  the  Lord  had  by  his  prophet  long  before  taught 
the  same  truth :  "  I  will  love  them  freely,"  saith  he,  "for  mine 
anger  is  turned  away."  (t)  If  his  love  was  spontaneously  in- 
clined towards  us,  it  certainly  is  not  excited  by  works.  But  the 
ignorant  mass  of  mankind  have  only  this  notion  of  it  —  that  no 
man  has  merited  that  Christ  should  effect  our  redemption ; 
but  that  towards  obtaining  the  possession  of  redemption,  we 
derive  some  assistance  from  our  own  works.  But  however  we 
may  have  been  redeemed  by  Christ,  yet  till  we  are  introduced 
into  communion  with  him  by  the  calling  of  the  Father,  we  are 
both  heirs  of  darkness  and  death,  and  enemies  to  God.  For 
Paul  teaches,  that  we  are  not  purified  and  washed  from  our 
pollutions  by  the  blood  of  Christ,  till  the  Spirit  effects  that 
purification  within  us.  (w)  This  is  the  same  that  Peter  intends, 
when  he  declares  that  the  " sanctification  of  the  Spirit"  is 
effectual  "  unto  obedience,  and  sprinkling  of  the  blood  of  Jesus 
Christ."  (x)  If  we  are  sprinkled  by  the  Spirit  with  the  blood 
of  Christ  for  purification,  we  must  not  imagine  that  before  this 
ablution  we  are  in  any  other  state  than  that  of  sinners  desti- 
tute of  Christ.  We  may  be  certain,  therefore,  that  the  com- 
mencement of  our  salvation  is,  as  it  were,  a  resurrection  from 
death  to  life ;  because,  when  "  on  the  behalf  of  Christ  it  is 
given  to  us  to  believe  on  him,"  (y)  we  then  begin  to  experience 
a  transition  from  death  to  life. 

VII.  The  same  reasoning  may  be  applied  to  the  second  and 
third  classes  of  men  in  the  division  stated  above.  For  the 
impurity  of  the  conscience  proves,  that  they  are  neither  of  them 
yet  regenerated  by  the  Spirit  of  God  ;  and  their  unregeneracy 
betrays  also  their  want  of  faith :  whence  it  appears,  that  they 
are  not  yet  reconciled  to  God,  or  justified  in  his  sight,  since 
these  blessings  are  only  attained  by  faith.  What  can  be  per- 
formed by  sinners  alienated  from  God,  that  is  not  execrable  in 
his  view  ?  Yet  all  the  impious,  and  especially  hypocrites,  are 
inflated  with  this  foolish  confidence.  Though  they  know  that 
their  heart  is  full  of  impurity,  yet  if  they  perform  any  specious 
actions,  they  esteem  them  too  good  to  be  despised  by  God. 
Hence  that  pernicious  error,  that  though  convicted  of  a  polluted 
and  impious  heart,  they  cannot  be  brought  to  confess  them- 
selves destitute  of  righteousness ;  but  while  they  acknowledge 
themselves  to  be  unrighteous,  because  it  cannot  be  denied,  they 
still  arrogate  to  themselves  some  degree  of  righteousness.     This 

(s)  1  John  iv.  10.  (/)  Rosea  xiv.  4.  («)  1  Cor.  vi.  11. 

(x)  1  Peter  i.  2.  (y)  Phil.  i.  29. 


vanity  the  Lord  excellently  refutes  by  the  prophet.  ''  Ask 
now,"  saith  he,  "  the  priests,  saying.  If  one  bear  holy  flesh  in 
the  skirt  of  his  garment,  and  with  his  skirt  do  touch  bread,  or 
any  meat,  shall  it  be  holy  ?  And  the  priests  answered  and 
said,  No.  Then  said  Haggai,  If  one  that  is  unclean  by  a  dead 
body  touch  any  of  these,  shall  it  be  unclean  ?  And  the  priests 
answered  and  said,  It  shall  be  unclean.  Then  answered  Hag- 
gai, and  said,  So  is  this  people,  and  so  is  this  nation  before 
me,  saith  the  Lord  ;  and  so  is  every  work  of  their  hands  ;  and 
that  which  they  offer  there  is  unclean."  (z)  I  wish  that  this 
passage  might  either  obtain  full  credit  with  us,  or  be  deeply 
impressed  on  our  memory.  For  there  is  no  one,  however  fla- 
gitious his  whole  life  may  be,  who  can  suffer  himself  to  be 
persuaded  of  what  the  Lord  here  plainly  declares.  The  great- 
est sinner,  as  soon  as  he  has  performed  two  or  three  duties  of 
the  law,  doubts  not  but  they  are  accepted  of  him  for  righteous- 
ness ;  but  the  Lord  positively  denies  that  any  sanctification  is 
acquired  by  such  actions,  unless  the  heart  be  previously  well 
purified  ;  and  not  content  with  this,  he  asserts  that  all  the 
works  of  sinners  are  contaminated  by  the  impurity  of  their 
hearts.  Let  the  name  of  righteousness,  then,  no  longer  be  given 
to  these  works  which  are  condemned  for  their  pollution  by  the 
lips  of  God.  And  by  what  a  fine  similitude  does  he  demon- 
strate this  !  For  it  might  have  been  objected  that  what  the 
Lord  had  enjoined  was  inviolably  holy.  But  he  shov/s,  on  the 
contrary,  that  it  is  not  to  be  wondered  at,  if  those  things  which 
are  sanctified  by  the  law  of  the  Lord,  are  defiled  by  the  pollu- 
tion of  the  wicked  ;  since  an  unclean  hand  cannot  touch  any 
thing  that  has  been  consecrated,  without  profaning  it. 

VIII.  He  excellently  pursues  the  same  argument  also  in 
Isaiah  :  "  Bring  no  more  vain  oblations  ;  incense  is  an  abomina- 
tion unto  me  ;  your  new  moons  and  your  appointed  feasts  my 
soul  hateth ;  they  are  a  trouble  unto  me ;  I  am  weary  to  bear 
them.  When  ye  spread  forth  your  hands,  I  will  hide  mine  eyes 
from  you  ;  yea,  when  ye  make  many  prayers,  I  will  not  hear  : 
your  hands  are  full  of  blood.  Wash  you,  make  you  clean  ;  put 
away  the  evil  of  your  doings."  (a)  What  is  the  reason  that 
the  Lord  is  so  displeased  at  an  obedience  to  his  law  ?  But.  in 
fact,  he  here  rejects  nothing  that  arises  from  the  genuine  ob- 
servance of  the  law  ;  the  beginning  of  which,  he  every  where 
teaches,  is  an  unfeigned  fear  of  his  name,  (b)  If  that  be  want- 
ing, all  the  oblations  made  to  him  are  not  merely  trifles,  but 
nauseous  and  abominable  pollutions.  Let  hypocrites  go  now, 
and,  retaining  depravity  concealed  in  their  hearts,  endeavour  by 

(z)  Hag.  ii.  11—14.  (a)  Isaiah  i.  Vi—Ki. 

(b)  Deut.  iv.  6.     Psalm  cxi.  10.     Prov.  i.  7 ;  ix.  10. 


their  works  to  merit  the  favour  of  God.  But  by  such  means 
they  will  add  provocation  to  provocation  ;  for  '■'  the  sacrifice  of 
the  wicked  is  an  abomination  to  the  Lord ;  but  the  prayer  of 
the  upright  "  alone  "  is  his  delight."  (c)  We  lay  it  down, 
therefore,  as  an  undoubted  truth,  which  ought  to  be  well  known 
to  such  as  are  but  moderately  versed  in  the  Scriptures,  that 
even  the  most  splendid  works  of  men  not  yet  truly  sanctified, 
are  so  far  from  righteousness  in  the  Divine  view,  that  they  are 
accounted  sins.  And  therefore  they  have  strictly  adhered  to 
the  truth,  who  have  maintained  that  the  works  of  a  man  do 
not  conciliate  God's  favour  to  his  person  ;  but,  on  the  contrary, 
that  works  are  never  acceptable  to  God,  unless  the  person  who 
performs  them  has  previously  found  favour  in  his  sight.  And 
this  order,  to  which  the  Scripture  directs  us,  is  religiously  to  be 
observed.  Moses  relates,  that  "The  Lord  had  respect  unto 
Abel  and  to  his  offering."  (d)  Does  he  not  plainly  indicate 
that  the  Lord  is  propitious  to  men,  before  he  regards  their 
works  ?  Wherefore  the  purification  of  the  heart  is  a  necessary 
prerequisite,  in  order  that  the  works  which  we  perform  may  be 
favourably  received  by  God  ;  for  the  declaration  of  Jeremiah  is 
always  in  force,  that  the  "  eyes  of  the  Lord  are  upon  the 
truth."  (e)  And  the  Holy  Spirit  has  asserted  by  the  mouth  of 
Peter,  that  it  is  "by  faith"  alone  that  the  "heart"  is  "pu- 
rified," (/)  which  proves  that  the  first  foundation  is  laid  in  a 
true  and  living  faith. 

IX.  Let  us  now  examine  what  degree  of  righteousness  is 
possessed  by  those  whom  we  have  ranked  in  the  fourth  class. 
We  admit,  that  when  God,  by  the  interposition  of  the  right- 
eousness of  Christ,  reconciles  us  to  himself,  and  having  granted 
us  the  free  remission  of  our  sins,  esteems  us  as  righteous  per- 
sons, to  this  mercy  he  adds  also  another  blessing  ;  for  he  dwells 
in  us  by  his  Holy  Spirit,  by  whose  power  our  carnal  desires 
are  daily  more  and  more  mortified,  and  we  are  sanctified,  that 
is,  consecrated  to  the  Lord  unto  real  purity  of  life,  having  our 
hearts  moulded  to  obey  his  law,  so  that  it  is  our  prevailing  in- 
clination to  submit  to  his  will,  and  to  promote  his  glory  alone  by 
all  possible  means.  But  even  while,  under  the  guidance  of  the 
Holy  Spirit,  we  are  walking  in  the  ways  of  the  Lord,  — that  we 
may  not  forget  ourselves,  and  be  filled  with  pride,  we  feel  such 
remains  of  imperfection,  as  afford  us  abundant  cause  for  hu- 
mility. The  Scripture  declares,  that  "  there  is  not  a  just  man 
upon  earth,  that  doeih  good  and  sinneth  not."  (g)  What  kind 
of  righteousness,  then,  will  even  believers  obtain  from  their  own 
works  ?  In  the  first  place,  I  assert,  that  the  best  of  their  per- 
formances are  tarnished  and  corrupted  by  some-  carnal  impurity 

(c)  Prov.  XV.  8.  (,/)  Gen.  iv.  4.  (e)  .ler.  r.  3. 

(/)  Acts  XV.  9.  (g)  Ecclea.  vii.  20. 


and  debased  by  a  mixture  of  some  alloy.  Let  any  holy  servant 
of  God  select  from  his  whole  life  that  which  he  shall  conceive 
to  have  been  the  best  of  all  his  actions,  and  let  him  examine  it 
with  attention  on  every  side  ;  he  will  undoubtedly  discover  in 
it  some  taint  of  the  corruption  of  the  flesh  ;  since  our  alacrity 
to  good  actions  is  never  what  it  ought  to  be,  but  our  course  is 
retarded  by  great  debility.  Though  we  perceive  that  the  ble- 
mishes which  deform  the  works  of  the  saints,  are  not  ditRcult 
to  be  discovered,  yet  suppose  we  admit  them  to  be  very  dimi- 
nutive spots,  will  they  not  be  at  all  offensive  in  the  sight  of  God, 
in  which  even  the  stars  are  not  pure  ?  We  have  now  ascer- 
tained, that  there  is  not  a  single  action  performed  by  the  saints, 
which,  if  judged  according  to  its  intrinsic  merit,  does  not  justly 
deserve  to  be  rewarded  with  shame. 

X.  In  the  next  place,  even  though  it  were  possible  for  us  to 
perform  any  works  completely  pure  and  perfect,  yet  one  sin  is 
sufficient  to  extinguish  and  annihilate  all  remembrance  of  ante- 
cedent righteousness,  as  is  declared  by  the  prophet,  (h)  With 
him  James  also  agrees :  "  Whosoever  shall  offend,"  says  he, 
"  in  one  point,  he  is  guilty  of  all."  (i)  Now,  since  this  mortal 
life  is  never  pure  or  free  from  sin,  whatever  righteousness  we 
might  acquire  being  perpetually  corrupted,  overpowered,  and 
destroyed  by  subsequent  sins,  it  would  neither  be  admitted  in 
the  sight  of  God,  nor  be  imputed  to  us  for  righteousness. 
Lastly,  in  considering  the  righteousness  of  works,  we  should 
regard,  not  any  action  commanded  in  the  law,  but  the  com- 
mandment itself.  Therefore,  if  we  seek  righteousness  by  the 
law,  it  is  in  vain  for  us  to  perform  two  or  three  works  ;  a 
perpetual  observance  of  the  law  is  indispensably  necessary. 
Wherefore  God  does  not  impute  to  us  for  righteousness  that 
remission  of  sins,  of  which  we  have  spoken,  once  only,  (as 
some  foolishly  imagine,)  in  order  that,  having  obtained  pardon 
for  our  past  lives,  we  may  afterwards  seek  righteousness  by  the 
law  ;  which  would  be  only  sporting  with  us,  and  deluding  us 
by  a  fallacious  hope.  For  since  perfection  is  unattainable  by 
us,  as  long  as  we  are  in  this  mortal  body,  and  the  law  denounces 
death  and  judgment  on  all  whose  M^orks  are  not  completely  and 
universally  righteous,  it  will  always  have  matter  of  accusation 
and  condemnation  against  us,  unless  it  be  prevented  by  the 
Divine  mercy  continually  absolving  us  by  a  perpetual  remission 
of  our  sins.  Wherefore  it  will  ever  be  true,  as  we  asserted  at 
the  beginning,  that  if  we  be  judged  according  to  our  demerits, 
whatever  be  our  designs  or  undertakings,  we  are  nevertheless 
with  all  our  endeavours  and  all  om-  pursuits,  deserving  of  death 
and  destruction. 

(A)  Ezek.  xviii.  24  (i)  James  ii.  10. 

12  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

XI.  We  must  strenuously  insist  on  these  two  points  —  first, 
that  there  never  was  an  action  performed  by  a  pious  man, 
which,  if  examined  by  the  scrutinizing  eye  of  Divine  justice, 
would  not  deserve  condemnation  ;  and  secondly,  if  any  such 
thing  be  admitted,  (though  it  cannot  be  the  case  with  any  indi- 
vidual of  mankind,)  yet  being  corrupted  and  contaminated  by 
the  sins,  of  which  its  performer  is  confessedly  guilty,  it  loses 
every  claim  to  the  Divine  favour.  And  this  is  the  principal 
hinge  on  which  our  controversy  [with  the  Papists]  turns.  For 
concerning  the  beginning  of  justification,  there  is  no  dispute 
between  us  and  the  sounder  schoolmen,  but  we  all  agree,  that  a 
sinner  being  freely  delivered  from  condemnation  obtains  right- 
eousness, and  that  by  the  remission  of  his  sins  ;  only  they, 
under  the  term  jiistification,  comprehend  that  renovation  in 
which  we  are  renewed  by  the  Spirit  of  God  to  an  obedience  to 
the  law,  and  so  they  describe  the  righteousness  of  a  regenerate 
man  as  consisting  in  this  —  that  a  man,  after  having  been  once 
reconciled  to  God  through  faith  in  Christ,  is  accounted  right- 
eous with  God  on  account  of  his  good  works,  the  merit  of 
which  is  the  cause  of  his  acceptance.  But  the  Lord,  on  the 
contrary,  declares,  "  that  faith  was  reckoned  to  Abraham  for 
righteousness,"  {k)  not  during  the  time  while  he  yet  remained 
a  worshipper  of  idols,  but  after  he  had  been  eminent  during 
many  years  for  the  sanctity  of  his  life.  Abraham,  then,  had  for 
a  long  time  worshipped  God  from  a  pure  heart,  and  performed 
all  that  obedience  to  the  law,  which  a  mortal  man  is  capable 
of  performing  ;  yet,  after  all.  his  righteousness  consisted  in  faith. 
Whence  we  conclude,  according  to  the  argument  of  Paul,  that 
it  was  not  of  works.  So  when  the  prophet  says,  "  The  just 
shall  live  by  his  faith,"  (Z)  he  is  not  speaking  of  the  impious 
and  profane,  whom  the  Lord  justifies  by  converting  them  to 
the  faith  ;  but  his  address  is  directed  to  believers,  and  they  are 
promised  life  by  faith.  Paul  also  removes  every  doubt,  when, 
in  confirmation  of  this  sentiment,  he  adduces  the  following 
passage  of  David  :  "  Blessed  are  they  whose  iniquities  are  for- 
given." {m)  But  it  is  certain  that  David  spake  not  of  impious 
men,  but  of  believers,  whose  characters  resembled  his  own ;  for 
he  spoke  from  the  experience  of  his  own  conscience.  Where- 
fore it  is  necessary  for  us,  not  to  have  this  blessing  for  once 
only,  but  to  retain  it  as  long  as  we  live.  Lastly,  he  asserts, 
that  the  message  of  a  free  reconciliation  with  God,  is  not  only 
promulgated  for  a  day  or  two,  but  is  perpetual  in  the  church,  [n) 
Believers,  therefore,  even  to  the  end  of  their  lives,  have  no 
other  righteousness  than  that  which  is  there  described.  For 
the  mediatorial  office  is  perpetually   sustained  by   Christ,  by 

{k)  Rom.  iv.  f).  (0  Hab.  ii.  4.  (w)   Rom.  iv.  7.  (n)  2  Cor.  v.  18,  19 


whom  the  Father  is  reconciled  to  us  ;  and  the  efficacy  of 
whose  death  is  perpetually  the  same,  consisting  in  ablution, 
satisfaction,  expiation,  and  perfect  obedience,  which  covers  all 
our  iniquities.  And  Paul  does  not  tell  the  Ephesians  that  they 
are  indebted  to  grace  merely  for  the  beginning  of  their  salva- 
tion, but  that  they  ''are  saved  by  grace,  not  of  works,  lest  any 
man  should  boast."  (o) 

XII.  The  subterfuges,  by  which  the  schoolmen  endeavour 
to  evade  these  arguments,  are  unavailing.  They  say,  that  the 
sufficiency  of  good  works  to  justification  arises  not  from  their 
intrinsic  merit,  but  from  the  grace  through  which  they  are 
accepted.  Secondly,  because  they  are  constrained  to  acknow- 
ledge the  righteousness  of  works  to  be  always  imperfect  in  the 
present  state,  they  admit,  that  as  long  as  we  live  we  need  the 
remission  of  our  sins,  in  order  to  supply  the  defects  of  our 
works  ;  but  that  our  deficiencies  are  compensated  by  works  of 
supererogation.  I  reply,  that  what  they  denominate  the  grace 
through  which  our  works  are  accepted,  is  no  other  than  the 
free  goodness  of  the  Father,  with  which  he  embraces  us  in 
Christ,  when  he  invests  us  with  the  righteousness  of  Christ, 
and  accepts  it  as  ours,  in  order  that,  in  consequence  of  it,  he 
may  treat  us  as  holy,  pure,  and  righteous  persons.  For  the 
righteousness  of  Christ  (which,  being  the  only  perfect  right- 
eousness, is  the  only  one  that  can  bear  the  Divine  scrutiny) 
must  be  produced  on  our  behalf,  and  judicially  presented,  as  in 
the  case  of  a  surety.  Being  furnished  with  this,  we  obtain  by 
faith  the  perpetual  remission  of  our  sins.  Our  imperfections 
and  impurities,  being  concealed  by  its  purity,  are  not  imputed 
to  us,  but  are  as  it  were  buried,  and  prevented  from  appearing 
in  the  view  of  Divine  justice,  till  the  advent  of  that  hour, 
when  the  old  man  being  slain  and  utterly  annihilated  in  us,  the 
Divine  goodness  shall  receive  us  into  a  blessed  peace  with  the 
new  Adam,  in  that  state  to  wait  for  the  day  of  the  Lord,  when 
we  shall  receive  incorruptible  bodies,  and  be  translated  to  the 
glories  of  the  celestial  kingdom. 

XIII.  If  these  things  are  true,  surely  no  works  of  ours  can 
render  us  acceptable  to  God  ;  nor  can  the  actions  themselves 
be  pleasing  to  him,  any  otherwise  than  as  a  man,  who  is 
covered  with  the  righteousness  of  Christ,  pleases  God  and 
obtains  the  remission  of  his  sins.  For  God  has  not  promised 
eternal  life  as  a  reward  of  certain  works  ;  he  only  declares, 
that  "  he  that  doeth  these  things  shall  live,"  (j^)  denouncing, 
on  the  contrary,  that  memorable  curse  against  all  who  continue 
not  in  the  observance  of  every  one  of  his  commands,  {q)  This 
abundantly  refntes  the  erroneous  notion  of  a  partial  >-ighteous- 

(o)  Ephes.  ii.  8,  9.  (p)  Lev.  xviii.  5.     Rom.  x.  5. 

(q)  Deut.  xxvii.  26.     Gal.  iii.  10. 

14  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

ness,  since  no  other  righteousness  is  admitted  into  heaven  but 
an  entire  observance  of  the  law.  Nor  is  there  any  more  solidity 
in  their  pretence  of  a  sufficient  compensation  for  imperfections 
by  works  of  supererogation.  For  are  they  not  by  this  perpe- 
tually recmTing  to  the  subterfuge,  from  which  they  have  already 
been  di'iven,  that  the  partial  observance  of  the  law  constitutes, 
as  far  as  it  goes,  a  righteousness  of  works  ?  They  unblush- 
ingly  assume  as  granted,  what  no  man  of  sound  judgment  will 
concede.  The  Lord  frequently  declares,  that  he  acknowledges 
no  righteousness  of  works,  except  in  a  perfect  obedience  to  his 
law.  What  presumption  is  it  for  us,  who  are  destitute  of  this, 
in  order  that  we  may  not  appear  to  be  despoiled  of  all  our 
glory,  or,  in  other  words,  to  submit  entirely  to  the  Lord  —  what 
presumption  is  it  for  us  to  boast  of  I  know  not  what  fragments 
of  a  few  actions,  and  to  endeavour  to  supply  deficiencies  by 
other  satisfactions  !  Satisfactions  have  already  been  so  com- 
pletely demolished,  that  they  ought  not  to  occupy  even  a 
transient  thought.  I  only  remark,  that  those  who  trifle  in  this 
manner,  do  not  consider  what  an  execrable  thing  sin  is  in  the  sight 
of  God ;  for  indeed  they  ought  to  know,  that  all  the  righteous- 
ness of  all  mankind,  accumulated  in  one  mass,  is  insufficient  to 
compensate  for  a  single  sin.  We  see  that  man  on  account  of 
one  offence  was  rejected  and  abandoned  by  God,  so  that  he 
lost  all  means  of  regaining  salvation,  (r)  They  are  deprived, 
therefore,  of  the  power  of  satisfaction,  with  which,  however 
they  flatter  themselves,  they  will  certainly  never  be  able  to 
render  a  satisfaction  to  God,  to  whom  nothing  will  be  pleasing 
or  acceptable  that  proceeds  from  his  enemies.  Now,  his  ene- 
mies are  all  those  to  whom  he  determines  to  impute  sin.  Our 
sins,  therefore,  must  be  covered  and  forgiven,  before  the  Lord 
can  regard  any  of  our  works.  Whence  it  follows  that  the 
remission  of  sins  is  absolutely  gratuitous,  and  that  it  is  wick- 
edly blasphemed  by  those  who  obtrude  any  satisfactions.  Let 
us,  therefore,  after  the  example  of  the  apostle,  "forgetting  those 
things  which  are  behind,  and  reaching  forth  unto  those  things 
which  are  before,  press  toward  the  mark  for  the  prize  of  our 
high  calling."  (s) 

XIV.  But  how  is  the  pretence  of  works  of  supererogation 
consistent  with  this  injunction  —  "  When  ye  shall  have  done 
all  those  things  which  are  commanded  you,  say.  We  are  un- 
profitable servants  ;  we  have  done  that  which  was  our  duty  to 
do?  "  (if)  This  direction  does  not  inculcate  an  act  of  simula- 
tion or  falsehood,  but  a  decision  in  our  mind  respecting  that 
of  which  we  are  certain.  The  Lord,  therefore,  commands  us 
sincerely  to  think  and  consider  with  ourselves,  that  our  services 

(r)  Gen.  iii.  {s)  Phil.  iii.  13,  14.  {t)  Luke  xvii.  10 


to  him  are  none  of  them  gratuitous,  but  merely  the  performance 
of  indispensable  duties;  and  that  justly;  for  we  are  servants 
under  such  numerous  obligations  as  we  could  never  discharge  ; 
even  though  all  our  thoughts  and  all  our  members  were  devoted 
to  the  duties  of  the  law.  In  saying,  therefore,  "  When  ye  shall 
have  done  all  those  things  which  are  commanded,"  he  supposes 
a  case  of  one  man  having  attained  to  a  degree  of  righteousness 
beyond  what  is  attained  by  all  the  men  in  the  world.  How, 
then,  while  every  one  of  us  is  at  the  greatest  distance  from  this 
point,  can  we  presume  to  glory  that  we  have  completely  attained 
to  that  perfect  standard?  Nor  can  any  one  reasonably  object, 
that  there  is  nothing  to  prevent  his  efforts  from  going  beyond 
his  necessary  obligations,  who  in  any  respect  fails  of  doing  the 
duty  incumbent  on  him.  For  we  must  acknowledge,  that  we 
cannot  imagine  any  thing  pertaining  either  to  the  service  of 
God  or  to  the  love  of  our  neighbour,  which  is  not  comprehend- 
ed in  the  Divine  law.  But  if  it  is  a  part  of  the  law,  let  us  not 
boast  of  voluntary  liberality,  where  we  are  bound  by  necessity. 
XV.  It  is  irrelevant  to  this  subject,  to  allege  the  boasting 
of  Paul,  (u)  that  among  the  Corinthians  he  voluntarily  receded 
from  what,  if  he  had  chosen,  he  might  have  claimed  as  his 
right,  and  not  only  did  what  was  incumbent  on  him  to  do, 
but  afforded  them  his  gratuitous  services  beyond  the  requisi- 
tions of  duty.  They  ought  to  attend  to  the  reason  there  as- 
signed, that  he  acted  thus,  "  lest  he  should  hinder  the  gospel 
of  Christ."  (iv)  For  wicked  and  fraudulent  teachers  recom- 
mended themselves  by  this  stratagem  of  liberality,  by  which 
they  endeavoured,  both  to  conciliate  a  favourable  reception  to 
their  own  pernicious  dogmas,  and  to  fix  an  odium  on  the  gos- 
pel ;  so  that  Paul  was  necessitated  either  to  endanger  the  doc- 
trine of  Christ,  or  to  oppose  these  artifices.  Now,  if  it  be  a 
matter  of  indifference  to  a  Christian  to  incur  an  offence  when 
he  may  avoid  it,  I  confess  that  the  apostle  performed  for  the 
Lord  a  work  of  supererogation  ;  but  if  this  was  justly  required 
of  a  prudent  minister  of  the  gospel,  I  maintain  that  he  did 
what  was  his  duty  to  do.  Even  if  no  such  reason  appeared, 
yet  the  observation  of  Chrysostom  is  always  tr^e  — that  all  that 
we  have  is  on  the  same  tenure  as  the  possessions  of  slaves, 
which  the  law  pronounces  to  be  the  property  of  their  masters. 
And  Christ  has  clearly  delivered  the  same  truth  in  the  parable, 
where  he  inquires  whether  we  thank  a  servant,  when  he  re- 
turns home  in  the  evening,  after  the  various  labours  of  the 
day.  (x)  But  it  is  possible  that  he  may  have  laboured  with 
greater  diligence  than  we  had  ventured  to  require.  This  may 
be  granted ;  yet  he  has  done  no  more  than,  by  the  condition 

(m)  1  Cor.  ix.  (w)  1  Cor.  ix.  12.  (z)  Luke  xvii.  9. 

16  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

of  servitude,  he  was  under  an  obligation  to  do;  since  he  be- 
longs to  us,  with  all  the  ability  he  has,  I  say  nothing  of  the 
nature  of  the  supererogations  which  these  men  wish  to  boast 
of  before  God  ;  for  they  are  contemptible  trifles,  which  he  has 
never  commanded,  which  he  does  not  approve,  nor,  when  they 
vender  up  their  account  to  him,  will  he  accept  them.  We 
cannot  admit  that  there  are  any  works  of  supererogation,  ex- 
cept such  as  those  of  which  it  is  said  by  the  prophet,  "  Who 
hath  required  this  at  your  hand?"  (y)  But  let  them  remem- 
ber the  language  of  another  passage  respecting  these  things : 
"  Wherefore  do  ye  spend  money  for  that  which  is  not  bread  ? 
and  your  labour  for  that  which  satisfieth  not  ?  "  (z)  It  is  easy, 
indeed,  for  these  idle  doctors  to  dispute  concerning  these  things 
in  easy  chairs  ;  but  when  the  Judge  of  all  shall  ascend  the 
judgment  seat,  all  such  empty  notions  must  vanish  away. 
The  object  of  our  inquiries  ought  to  be,  what  plea  we  may 
bring  forward  Avith  confidence  at  his  tribunal,  not  what  we  can 
invent  in  schools  and  cloisters. 

XVI.  On  this  subject  our  minds  require  to  be  guarded 
chiefly  against  two  pernicious  principles — That  we  place  no 
confidence  in  the  righteousness  of  our  works,  and  that  we 
ascribe  no  glory  to  them.  The  Scriptures  every  where  drive 
us  from  all  confidence,  when  they  declare  that  all  our  right- 
eousnesses are  odious  in  the  Divine  view,  unless  they  are  per- 
fumed with  the  holiness  of  Christ ;  and  that  they  can  only 
excite  the  vengeance  of  God,  unless  they  are  supported  by  his 
merciful  pardon.  Thus  they  leave  us  nothing  to  do,  but  to 
deprecate  the  wrath  of  our  Judge  with  the  confession  of  David, 
"  Enter  not  into  judgment  with  thy  servant ;  for  in  thy  sight 
shall  no  man  living  be  justified."  (a)  And  where  Job  says, 
"  If  I  be  wicked,  woe  unto  me  ;  and  if  I  be  righteous,  yet  will 
I  not  lift  up  my  head  ;  "  (6)  though  he  refers  to  that  consum- 
mate righteousness  of  God,  compared  to  which  even  the  angels 
are  deficient,  yet  he  at  the  same  time  shows,  that  when  God 
comes  to  judgment,  all  men  must  be  dumb.  For  he  not  only 
means  that  he  would  rather  freely  recede,  than  incur  the  dan- 
ger of  contending  with  the  rigour  of  God,  but  signifies  that  he 
experiences  in  himself  no  other  righteousness  than  what  would 
instantaneously  vanish  before  the  Divine  presence.  When 
confidence  is  destroyed,  all  boasting  must  of  necessity  be  re- 
hnquished.  For  who  can  give  the  praise  of  righteousness  to 
his  works,  in  which  he  is  afraid  to  confide  in  the  presence  of 
God?  We  must  therefore  have  recourse  to  the  Lord,  in  whom 
we  are  assured,  by  Isaiah,  that  "  all  the  seed  of  Israel  shall  be 
justified,  and  shall   glory;  "(c)  for  it  is  strictly  true,  as  he 

(?/■   Isaiali  i.  12.  (:)  Isaiali  Iv.  2.  (a)  Psalm  cxliii.  2. 

{b)  Job  X.  15.  (c)  Isaiah  xlv.  25. 


says  in  another  place,  that  we  are  "  the  planting  of  the  Lord, 
that  he  might  be  glorified."  [d]  Our  minds  therefore  will  then 
be  properly  purified,  when  they  shall  in  no  degree  confide  nor 
glory  in  our  works.  But  foolish  men  are  led  into  such  a  false 
and  delusive  confidence,  by  the  error  of  always  considering 
their  works  as  the  cause  of  their  salvation. 

XVII.  But  if  we  advert  to  the  four  kinds  of  causes,  which 
the  pliilosophers  direct  us  to  consider  in  the  production  of  effects, 
we  shall  find  none  of  them  consistent  with  works  in  the  accom- 
plishment of  our  salvation.  For  the  Scripture  every  where 
proclaims,  that  the  efficient  cause  of  eternal  life  being  procured 
for  us,  was  the  mercy  of  our  heavenly  Father,  and  his  gra- 
tuitous love  towards  us ;  that  the  material  cause  is  Christ  and 
his  obedience,  by  which  he  obtained  a  righteousness  for  us ; 
and  what  shall  we  denominate  the  formal  and  instrumental 
cause,  unless  it  be  faith  ?  These  three  John  comprehends  in 
one  sentence,  when  he  says,  that  "  God  so  loved  the  world 
that  he  gave  his  only  begotten  Son,  that  whosoever  believeth 
in  him  should  not  perish,  but  have  everlasting  life."  (e)  The 
final  cause  the  apostle  declares  to  be,  both  the  demonstration  of 
the  Divine  righteousness  and  the  praise  of  the  Divine  goodness, 
in  a  passage  in  which  he  also  expressly  mentions  the  other  three 
causes.  For  this  is  his  language  to  the  Romans :  "  All  have 
sinned,  and  come  short  of  the  glory  of  God,  being  justified 
freely  by  his  grace  :  "  (/)  here  we  have  the  original  source  of 
our  salvation,  which  is  the  gratuitous  mercy  of  God  towards  us. 
It  follows,  "  through  the  redemption  that  is  in  Christ  Jesus :  " 
here  we  have  the  matter  of  our  justification.  "  Through  faith 
in  his  blood :  "  here  he  points  out  the  instrumental  cause,  by 
which  the  righteousness  of  Christ  is  revealed  to  us.  Lastly, 
he  subjoins  the  end  of  all,  when  he  says,  "  To  declare  his 
righteousness ;  that  he  might  be  just,  and  the  justifier  of  him 
which  believeth  in  Jesus."  And  to  suggest,  by  the  way,  that 
this  righteousness  consists  in  reconciliation  or  propitiation,  he 
expressly  asserts  that  Christ  was  "  set  forth  to  be  a  propitiation." 
So  also  in  the  first  chapter  to  the  Ephesians,  he  teaches  that 
we  are  received  into  the  favour  of  God  through  his  mere  mercy  ; 
that  it  is  accomplished  by  the  mediation  of  Christ ;  that  it  is 
apprehended  by  faith  ;  and  that  the  end  of  all  is,  that  the  glory 
of  the  Divine  goodness  may  be  fully  displayed,  {g)  When  we  i  '^*?^,. 
see  that  every  part  of  our  salvation  is  accomplished  without  us,  |'-*^'3^,  :•.. 
what  reason  have  we  to  confide  or  to  glory  in  our  works  ?  |/>2ev,  ,^>^ 
Nor  can  even  the  most  inveterate  enemies  of  Divine  grace  raise 
any  controversy  with  us  concerning  the  efficient  or  the  final 

(rf)  Isaiah  Ixi.  3. 

(/)  Rom.  iii.  23,  &c. 

(c)   John  iii.  16. 

(g)  Ephes.  i.  5—7,  13. 

II.             3 

18  INSTITUTES     OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

cause,  unless  they  mean  altogether  to  renounce  the  authority 
of  the  Scripture.  Over  the  material  and  formal  causes  they 
superinduce  a  false  colouring ;  as  if  our  own  works  were  to 
share  the  honour  of  them  with  faith  and  the  righteousness  of 
Christ.  But  this  also  is  contradicted  by  the  Scripture,  which 
affirms  that  Christ  is  the  sole  author  of  our  righteousness  and 
life,  and  that  this  blessing  of  righteousness  is  enjoyed  by  faith 

XVIII.  The  saints  often  confirm  and  console  themselves 
with  the  remembrance  of  their  own  innocence  and  integrity, 
and  sometimes  even  refrain  not  from  proclaiming  it.  Now,  this 
is  done  for  two  reasons ;  either  that,  in  comparing  their  good 
cause  with  the  bad  cause  of  the  impious,  they  derive  from  such 
comparison  an  assurance  of  victory,  not  so  much  by  the  com- 
mendation of  their  own  righteousness,  as  by  the  just  and 
merited  condemnation  of  their  adversaries ;  or  that,  even  with- 
out any  comparison  with  others,  while  they  examine  them- 
selves before  God,  the  purity  of  their  consciences  atfords  them 
some  consolation  and  confidence.  To  the  former  of  these  rea- 
sons we  shall  advert  hereafter ;  let  us  now  briefly  examine 
the  consistency  of  the  latter  with  what  we  have  before  asserted, 
that  in  the  sight  of  God  we  ought  to  place  no  reliance  on  the 
merit  of  works,  nor  glory  on  account  of  them.  The  con- 
sistency appears  in  this  —  that  for  the  foundation  and  accom- 
plishment of  their  salvation,  the  saints  look  to  the  Divine  good- 
ness alone,  without  any  regard  to  works.  And  they  not  only 
apply  themselves  to  it  above  all  things,  as  the  commencement 
of  their  happiness,  but  likewise  depend  upon  it  as  the  con- 
summation of  their  felicity.  A  conscience  thus  founded,  built 
up,  and  established,  is  also  confirmed  by  the  consideration  of 
works  ;  that  is,  as  far  as  they  are  evidences  of  God  dwelling 
and  reigning  in  us.  Now,  this  confidence  of  works  being  found 
in  none  but  those  who  have  previously  cast  all  the  confidence 
of  their  souls  on  the  mercy  of  God,  it  ought  not  to  be  thought 
contrary  to  that  upon  which  it  depends.  Wherefore,  when  we 
exclude  the  confidence  of  works,  we  only  mean  that  the  mind 
of  a  Christian  should  not  be  directed  to  any  merit  of  works  as  a 
mean  of  salvation  ;  but  should  altogether  rely  on  the  gratuitous 
promise  of  righteousness.  We  do  not  forbid  him  to  support 
and  confirm  this  faith  by  marks  of  the  Divine  benevolence  to 
him.  For  if,  when  we  call  to  remembrance  the  various  gifts 
which  God  has  conferred  on  us,  they  are  all  as  so  many  rays 
from  the  Divine  countenance,  by  which  we  are  illuminated  to 
contemplate  the  full  blaze  of  supreme  goodness,  —  much  more 
the  grace  of  good  works,  which  demonstrates  that  we  have 
received  the  Spirit  of  adoption. 

XIX.  When  the    saints,  therefore,   confirm  their  faith,  or 



derive  matter  of  rejoicing  from  the  integrity  of  their  con- 
sciences, they  only  conchide,  from  the  fruits  of  vocation,  that 
they  have  been  adopted  by  the  Lord  as  his  children.  The  de- 
claration of  Solomon,  that  "  In  the  fear  of  the  Lord  is  strong 
confidence  ;  "  (h)  and  the  protestation  sometimes  used  by  the 
saints  to  obtain  a  favourable  audience  from  the  Lord,  that 
"  they  have  walked  before  "  him  "  in  truth  and  with  a  perfect 
heart ;  "  (?)  these  things  have  no  concern  in  laying  the  foun- 
dation for  establishing  the  conscience  ;  nor  are  they  of  any 
value,  except  as  they  are  consequences  of  the  Divine  vocation. 
For  there  nowhere  exists  that  fear  of  God  which  can  establish 
a  full  assurance,  and  the  saints  are  conscious  that  their  integrity 
is  yet  accompanied  with  many  relics  of  corruption.  Bat  as 
the  fruits  of  regeneration  evince  that  the  Holy  Spirit  dwells  in 
them,  this  affords  them  ample  encouragement  to  expect  the  as- 
sistance of  God  in  all  their  necessities,  because  they  experience 
him  to  be  their  Father  in  an  affair  of  such  vast  importance. 
And  even  this  they  cannot  attain,  unless  they  have  first  appre- 
hended the  Divine  goodness,  confirmed  by  no  other  assurance 
but  that  of  the  promise.  For  if  they  begin  to  estimate  it  by 
their  good  works,  nothing  will  be  weaker  or  more  uncertain  •, 
for,  if  their  works  be  estimated  in  themselves,  their  imperfection 
will  menace  them  with  the  wrath  of  God,  as  much  as  their 
purity,  however  incomplete,  testifies  his  benevolence.  In  a 
word,  they  declare  the  benefits  of  God,  but  in  such  a  way  as 
not  to  turn  away  from  his  gratuitous  favour,  in  which  Paul  as- 
sumes us  there  is  "  length,  and  breadth,  and  depth,  and  height :  " 
as  though  he  had  said,  Which  way  soever  the  pious  turn  their 
views,  how  high  soever  they  ascend,  how  Avidely  soever  they 
expatiate,  yet  they  ought  not  to  go  beyond  the  love  of  Christ, 
but  employ  themselves  wholly  in  meditating  on  it,  because  it 
comprehends  in  itself  all  dimensions.  Therefore  he  says  that  it 
"  passeth  knowledge,"  and  that  when  we  know  how  much 
Christ  has  loved  us,  we  are  "  filled  with  all  the  fulness  of 
God."  (k)  So  also  in  another  place,  when  he  glories  that 
believers  are  victorious  in  every  conflict,  he  immediately  adds, 
as  the  reason  of  it,  "through  him  that  loved  us."  (l) 

XX.  We  see  now,  that  the  confidence  which  the  saints 
have  in  their  works  is  not  such  as  either  ascribes  any  thing  to 
the  merit  of  them,  (since  they  view  them  only  as  the  gifts  of 
God,  ill  which  they  acknowledge  his  goodness,  and  as  marks 
of  their  calling,  whence  they  infer  their  election,)  or  derogates 
the  least  from  the  gratuitous  righteousness  which  we  obtain  in 
Christ ;  since  it  depends  upon  it,  and  cannot  subsist  without  it. 

(A)  Prov.  xiv.  26.  (k)  Ephes.  iii.  18,  19. 

(t)   2  Kings  XX.  3  (I)  Rom.  viii.  37. 

20  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IIU 

This  is  concisely  and  beautifully  represented  by  Augustine, 
when  he  says,  "  I  do  not  say  to  the  Lord,  Despise  not  the 
works  of  my  hands.  I  have  sought  the  Lord  with  my  hands, 
and  I  have  not  been  deceived.  But  I  commend  not  the  works 
of  my  hands  ;  for  I  fear  that  when  thou  hast  examined  them, 
thou  wilt  find  more  sin  than  merit.  This  only  I  say,  this  I 
ask,  this  I  desire  ;  Despise  not  the  works  of  thy  hands.  Be- 
hold in  me  thy  work,  not  mine.  For  if  thou  beholdest  mine, 
thou  condemnest  me  ;  if  thou  beholdest  thine  own,  thou 
crownest  me.  Because  whatever  good  works  I  have,  they  are 
from  thee."  He  assigns  two  reasons  why  he  ventured  not  to 
boast  of  his  works  to  God  ;  first,  that  if  he  has  any  good  ones, 
he  sees  nothing  of  his  own  in  them  ;  secondly,  that  even  these 
are  buried  under  a  multitude  of  sins.  Hence  the  conscience 
experiences  more  fear  and  consternation  than  security.  There- 
fore he  desires  God  to  behold  his  best  performances,  only  that 
he  may  recognize  in  them  the  grace  of  his  own  calling,  and 
perfect  the  work  which  he  has  begun. 

XXL  The  remaining  objection  is,  that  the  Scripture  repre- 
sents the  good  works  of  believers  as  the  causes  for  which 
the  Lord  blesses  them.  But  this  must  be  understood  so  as  not 
to  affect  what  we  have  before  proved,  that  the  efficient  cause 
of  our  salvation  is  the  love  of  God  the  Father ;  the  material 
cause,  the  obedience  of  the  Son  ;  the  instrumental  cause,  the 
illumination  of  the  Spirit,  that  is,  faith ;  and  the  final  cause, 
the  glory  of  the  infinite  goodness  of  God.  No  obstacle  arises 
from  these  things  to  prevent  good  works  being  considered  by 
the  Lord  as  inferior  causes.  But  how  does  this  happen  ?  Be- 
cause those  whom  his  mercy  has  destined  to  the  inheritance  of 
eternal  life,  he,  in  his  ordinary  dispensations,  introduces  to  the 
possession  of  it  by  good  works.  That  which,  in  the  order  of  his 
dispensations,  precedes,  he  denominates  the  cause  of  that  which 
follows.  For  this  reason  he  sometimes  deduces  eternal  life 
from  works ;  not  that  the  acceptance  of  it  is  to  be  referred  to 
them  ;  but  because  he  justifies  the  objects  of  his  election,  that 
he  may  finally  glorify  them ;  he  makes  the  former  favour, 
which  is  a  step  to  the  succeeding  one,  in  some  sense  the  cause 
of  it.  But  whenever  the  true  cause  is  to  be  assigned,  he  does 
not  direct  us  to  take  refuge  in  works,  but  confines  our  thoughts 
entirely  to  his  mercy.  For  what  does  he  teach  us  by  the 
apostle  ?  "  The  wages  of  sin  is  death  ;  but  the  gift  of  God  is 
eternal  life  through  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord."  Why  does  he  not 
oppose  righteousness  to  sin,  as  well  as  life  to  death  ?  Why 
does  he  not  make  righteousness  the  cause  of  life,  as  well  as  sin 
the  cause  of  death  ?  For  then  the  antithesis  would  have  been 
complete,  whereas  by  this  variation  it  is  partly  destroyed.  But 
the  apostle  intended  by  this  comparison  to  express  a  certain 


truth  —  that  death  is  due  to  the  demerits  of  men,  and  that  life 
proceeds  solely  from  the  mercy  of  God.  Lastly,  these  phrases 
denote  rather  the  order  of  the  Divine  gifts,  than  the  cause  of 
them.  In  the  accumulation  of  graces  upon  graces,  God  derives 
from  the  former  a  reason  for  adding  the  next,  that  he  may  not 
omit  any  thing  necessary  to  the  enrichment  of  his  servants. 
And  while  he  thus  pursues  his  liberality,  he  would  have  us 
always  to  remember  his  gratuitous  election,  which  is  the 
source  and  original  of  all.  For  although  he  loves  the  gifts 
which  he  daily  confers,  as  emanations  from  that  fountain,  yet 
it  is  our  duty  to  adhere  to  that  gratuitous  acceptance,  which 
alone  can  support  our  souls,  and  to  connect  the  gifts  of  his 
Spirit,  which  he  afterwards  bestows  on  us,  with  the  first  cause, 
in  such  a  manner  as  will  not  be  derogatory  to  it. 



We  have  now  discussed  the  principal  branch  of  this  subject  ; 
that  because  righteousness,  if  dependent  on  works,  must  inevi- 
tably be  confounded  in  the  sight  of  God,  therefore  it  is  con- 
tained exclusively  in  the  mercy  of  God  and  the  participation 
of  Christ,  and  consequently  in  faith  alone.  Now,  it  must  be 
carefully  remarked  that  this  is  the  principal  hinge  on  which  the 
argument  turns,  that  we  may  not  be  implicated  in  the  common 
delusion,  which  equally  affects  the  learned  and  the  vulgar. 
For  as  soon  as  justification  by  faith  or  works  becomes  the  sub- 
ject of  inquiry,  they  have  immediate  recourse  to  those  passages 
which  seem  to  attribute  to  works  some  degree  of  merit  in  the 
sight  of  God  ;  as  though  justification  by  works  would  be  fully 
evinced,  if  they  could  be  proved  to  be  of  any  value  before 
God.  We  have  already  clearly  demonstrated  that  the  right- 
eousness of  works  consists  only  in  a  perfect  and  complete  ob- 
servance of  the  law.  Whence  it  follows,  that  no  man  is  justified 
by  works,  but  he  who,  being  elevated  to  the  summit  of  perfec- 
tion, cannot  be  convicted  even  of  the  least  transgression.  Tbis, 
therefore,  is  a  different  and  separate  question,  whether,  although 
works  be  utterly  insufficient  for  the  justification  of  men,  they 
do  not,  nevertheless,  merit  the  grace  of  God. 

22  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

II.  In  the  first  place,  with  respect  to  the  term  merit,  it  is 
necessary  for  me  to  premise,  that  whoever  fii*st  applied  it  to 
human  works,  as  compared  with  the  Divine  judgment,  sliowed 
very  little  concern  for  the  purity  of  the  faith.  I  gladly  abstain 
from  all  controversies  about  mere  words  ;  but  I  could  wish  that 
this  sobriety  had  always  been  observed  by  Christian  writers, 
that  they  had  avoided  the  unnecessary  adoption  of  terms  not 
used  in  the  Scriptures,  and  calculated  to  produce  great  oflence, 
but  very  little  advantage.  For  what  necessity  was  there  for 
the  introduction  of  the  word  merit,  when  the  value  of  good 
works  might  be  significantly  expressed  without  offence  by  a 
different  term  ?  But  the  great  offence  contained  in  it,  appears 
in  the  great  injury  the  world  has  received  from  it.  The  con- 
summate haughtiness  of  its  import  can  only  obscure  the  Divine 
grace,  and  taint  the  minds  of  men  with  presumptuous  arro- 
gance. I  confess,  the  ancient  writers  of  the  Church  have 
generally  used  it,  and  I  wish  that  their  misuse  of  one  word  had 
not  been  the  occasion  of  error  to  posterity.  Yet  they  also  de- 
clare in  some  places  that  they  did  not  intend  any  thing  preju- 
dicial to  the  truth.  For  this  is  the  language  of  Augustine  in 
one  passage :  "  Let  human  merit,  which  was  lost  by  Adam, 
here  be  silent,  and  let  the  grace  of  God  reign  through  Jesus 
Christ."  Again:  "The  saints  ascribe  nothing  to  their  own 
merits ;  they  will  ascribe  all,  O  God,  only  to  thy  mercy."  In 
another  place  :  "  And  when  a  man  sees  that  whatever  good  he 
has,  he  has  it  not  from  himself,  but  from  his  God,  he  sees  that 
all  that  is  commended  in  him  proceeds  not  from  his  own  merits, 
but  from  the  Divine  mercy."  We  see  how,  by  divesting  man 
of  the  power  of  performing  good  actions,  he  likewise  destroys 
the  dignity  of  merit.  Chrysostom  says,  "  Our  works,  if  there 
be  any  consequent  on  God's  gratuitous  vocation,  are  a  retribu- 
tion and  a  debt ;  but  the  gifts  of  God  are  grace,  beneficence, 
and  immense  liberality."  Leaving  the  name,  however,  let  us 
rather  attend  to  the  thing.  I  have  before  cited  a  passage  from 
Bernard  :  "  As  not  to  presume  on  our  merits  is  sufficiently 
meritorious,  so  to  be  destitute  of  merits  is  sufficient  for  the 
judgment."  But  by  the  explanation  immediately  annexed,  he 
properly  softens  the  harshness  of  these  expressions,  when  he 
says,  •'  Therefore  you  should  be  concerned  to  have  merits ;  and 
if  you  have  them,  you  should  know  that  they  are  given  to  you  ; 
you  should  hope  for  the  fruit,  the  mercy  of  God  ;  and  you 
have  escaped  all  danger  of  poverty,  ingratitude,  and  presump- 
tion. Happy  the  Church  which  is  not  destitute,  either  of 
merits  without  presumption,  or  of  presumption  without  merits." 
And  just  before  he  had  fully  shown  how  pious  his  meaning 
was.  "  For  concerning  merits,"  he  says,  "  why  should  the 
Church  be  solicitous,  which  has  a  more  firm  and  secure  founda- 


tion  for  glorying  in  the  purpose  of  God  ?  For  God  cannot 
deny  himself;  he  will  perform  what  he  has  promised.  Thus 
you  have  no  reason  for  inquiring,  on  account  of  what  merits 
we  may  hope  for  blessings,  especially  when  you  read,  '  Not  for 
your  sakes,  but  for  my  sake  ; '  (m)  it  is  sufficiently  meritorious 
to  know  that  merits  are  insufficient." 

III.  The  Scripture  shows  what  all  our  works  are  capable  of 
meriting,  when  it  represents  them  as  unable  to  bear  the  Divine 
scrutiny,  because  they  are  full  of  impurity  ;  and  in  the  next 
place,  what  would  be  merited  by  the  perfect  observance  of  the 
law,  if  this  could  any  where  be  found,  when  it  directs  us, 
"  When  ye  shall  have  done  all  those  things  which  are  com- 
manded you,  say.  We  are  unprofitable  servants  ;  "  (n)  because 
we  shall  not  have  conferred  any  favour  on  God,  but  only  have 
performed  the  duties  incumbent  on  us,  for  which  no  thanks  are 
due.  Nevertheless,  the  good  works  which  the  Lord  has  con- 
ferred on  us,  he  denominates  our  own,  and  declares  that  he 
will  not  only  accept,  but  also  reward  them.  It  is  our  duty  to 
be  animated  by  so  great  a  promise,  and  to  stir  up  our  minds 
that  we  "  be  not  weary  in  well  doing,"  (o)  and  to  be  truly 
grateful  for  so  great  an  instance  of  Divine  goodness.  It  is 
beyond  a  doubt,  that  whatever  is  laudable  in  our  works  pro- 
ceeds from  the  grace  of  God  ;  and  that  we  cannot  properly 
ascribe  the  least  portion  of  it  to  ourselves.  If  we  truly  and 
seriously  acknowledge  this  truth,  not  only  all  confidence,  but 
likewise  all  idea  of  merit,  immediately  vanishes.  We,  I  say, 
do  not,  like  the  sophists,  divide  the  praise  of  good  works  be- 
tween God  and  man,  but  we  preserve  it  to  the  Lord  complete, 
entire,  and  uncontaminated.  All  that  we  attribute  to  man,  is, 
that  those  works  which  were  otherwise  good  are  tainted  and 
polluted  by  his  impurity.  For  nothing  proceeds  from  the  most 
perfect  man,  which  is  wholly  immaculate.  Therefore  let  the 
Lord  sit  in  judgment  on  the  best  of  human  actions,  and  he 
will  indeed  recognize  in  them  his  own  righteousness,  but  man's 
disgrace  and  shame.  Good  works,  therefore,  are  pleasing  to 
God,  and  not  unprofitable  to  the  authors  of  them  ;  and  they 
will  moreover  receive  the  most  ample  blessings  from  God  as 
their  reward ;  not  because  they  merit  them,  but  because  the 
Divine  goodness  has  freely  appointed  them  this  reward.  But 
what  wickedness  is  it,  not  to  be  content  with  that  Divine 
liberality  which  remunerates  works  destitute  of  merit  with 
unmerited  rewards,  but  with  sacrilegious  ambition  still  to  aim 
at  more,  that  what  entirely  originates  in  the  Divine  munifi- 
cence may  appear  to  be  a  compensation  of  the  merit  of  works  ! 
Here  I  appeal  to  the  common  sense  of  every  man.     If  he  who, 

(m)  Ezek.  xxxvi.  32.  (n)  Luke  xvii.  10.  (o)  Gal.  vi.  9.    2  Thess.  iii.  13. 

24  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

by  the  liberality  of  another,  enjoys  the  use  and  profit  of  an 
estate,  usurp  to  himself  also  the  title  of  proprietor,  does  he 
not  by  such  ingratitude  deserve  to  lose  the  possession  which  he 
had?  So  also  if  a  slave,  manumitted  by  his  master,  conceal 
his  mean  condition  as  a  freed-man,  and  boast  that  he  was  free 
by  birth,  does  he  not  deserve  to  be  reduced  to  his  former 
servitude  ?  For  this  is  the  legitimate  way  of  enjoying  a  benefit, 
if  we  neither  arrogate  more  than  is  given  us,  nor  defraud  our 
benefactor  of  his  due  praise  ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  conduct 
ourselves  in  such  a  manner,  that  what  he  has  conferred  on  us 
may  appear,  as  it  were,  to  continue  Avith  himself.  If  this 
moderation  ought  to  be  observed  towards  men,  let  every  one 
examine  and  consider  what  is  due  to  God. 

lY.  I  know  that  the  sophists  abuse  some  texts  ni  order  to 
prove  that  the  term  merit  is  found  in  the  Scriptures  with  refer- 
ence to  God.  They  cite  a  passage  from  Ecclesiasticus  :  "  Mercy 
shall  make  place  for  every  man  according  to  the  merit  of  his 
works."  (p)  And  from  the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews:  "To  do 
good,  and  to  communicate,  forget  not ;  for  with  such  sacrifices 
men  merit  of  God."(g')  My  right  to  reject  the  authority  of 
Ecclesiasticus  I  at  present  relinquish  ;  but  I  deny  that  they 
faithfully  cite  the  words  of  the  writer  of  Ecclesiasticus,  who- 
ever he  might  be  ;  for  in  the  Greek  copy  it  is  as  follows : 
Tlad't]  sXsYiixodvvr]  'n^otrjdsi  TO'Jt'ov  kxadTog  yap  xara  ra  spya  auTou  supTjtfsi. 
"  He  shall  make  place  for  every  mercy  ;  and  every  man  shall 
find  according  to  his  works."  And  that  this  is  the  genuine 
reading,  which  is  corrupted  in  the  Latin  version,  appears  both 
from  the  complexion  of  the  words  themselves  and  from  the 
preceding  context.  In  the  passage  quoted  from  the  Epistle  to 
the  Hebrews,  there  is  no  reason  why  they  should  endeavour  to 
insnare  us  by  a  single  word,  when  the  apostle's  words  in  the 
Greek  imply  nothing  more  than  that  "with  such  sacrifices  God 
is  well  pleased."  This  alone  ought  to  be  abundantly  sufficient 
to  repress  and  subdue  the  insolence  of  our  pride,  that  we  trans- 
gress not  the  scriptural  rule  by  ascribing  any  dignity  to  human 
works.  Moreover,  the  doctrine  of  the  Scripture  is,  that  our 
good  works  are  perpetually  defiled  with  many  blemishes,  which 
might  justly  oflend  God  and  incense  him  against  us  ;  so  far  are 
they  from  being  able  to  conciliate  his  favour,  or  to  excite  his 
beneficence  towards  us ;  yet  that,  because  in  his  great  mercy 
he  does  not  examine  them  according  to  the  rigour  of  his  justice, 
he  accepts  them  as  though  they  were  immaculately  pure,  and 
therefore  rewards  them,  though  void  of  all  merit,  with  infinite 
blessings  both  in  this  life  and  in  that  which  is  to  come.  For  I 
cannot  admit  the  distinction  laid  down  by  some,  who  are  other- 

(p)  Ecclus.  xvi.  14.  (q)  Heb.  xiii.  16. 


wise  men  of  learning  and  piety,  that  good  works  merit  the 
graces  which  are  conferred  on  us  in  this  life,  and  that  eternal 
salvation  is  the  reward  of  faith  alone  ;  because  the  Lord  almost 
always  places  the  reward  of  labours  and  the  crown  of  victory 
in  heaven.  Besides,  to  ascribe  the  accumulation  of  graces 
upon  graces,  given  us  by  the  Lord,  to  the  merit  of  works,  in 
such  a  manner  as  to  detract  it  from  grace,  is  contrary  to  the 
doctrine  of  the  Scripture.  For  though  Christ  says,  that  "  to 
every  one  that  hath  shall  be  given,"  and  that  "  the  good  and 
faithful  servant,  who  hath  been  faithful  over  a  few  things,  shall 
be  made  ruler  over  many  things,"  (r)  yet  he  likewise  shows 
in  another  place,  that  the  improvements  of  believers  are  the 
gifts  of  his  gratuitous  kindness.  "  Ho,  every  one  that  thirst- 
eth,"  says  he,  "come  ye  to  the  waters,  and  he  that  hath  no 
money ;  come  ye,  buy,  and  eat ;  yea,  come,  buy  wine  and 
milk  without  money  and  without  price."  (s)  Whatever,  there- 
fore, is  now  conferred  on  believers  to  promote  their  salvation 
as  well  as  their  future  blessedness,  flows  exclusively  from  the 
beneficence  of  God  ;  nevertheless  he  declares,  that  both  in  the 
latter  and  in  the  former,  he  has  respect  to  our  works,  because, 
to  demonstrate  the  magnitude  of  his  love  to  us,  he  dignifies 
with  such  honour,  not  only  ourselves,  but  even  the  gifts  which 
he  has  bestowed  on  us. 

V.  If  these  points  had  been  handled  and  digested  in  proper 
order  in  former  ages,  there  would  never  have  arisen  so  many 
debates  and  dissensions.  Paul  says,  that  in  erecting  the  super- 
structure of  Christian  doctrine,  it  is  necessaiy  to  retain  that 
foundation  which  he  had  laid  among  the  Corinthians,  other 
than  which  no  man  can  lay,  which  is  Jesus  Christ,  (t)  What 
kind  of  a  foundation  have  we  in  Christ  ?  Has  he  begun  our 
salvation,  that  we  may  complete  it  ourselves  ?  and  has  he 
merely  opened  a  way  for  us  to  proceed  in  by  our  own  powers  ? 
By  no  means ;  but,  as  the  apostle  before  stated,  when  we  ac- 
knowledge him,  he  is  "made  unto  us  righteousness."  (i«)  No 
man,  therefore,  is  properly  founded  on  Christ,  but  he  who  has 
complete  righteousness  in  him  ;  since  the  apostle  says,  that  he 
was  sent,  not  to  assist  us  in  the  attainment  of  righteousness, 
but  to  be  himself  our  righteousness  ;  that  is  to  say,  that  we 
were  chosen  in  him  from  eternity,  before  the  formation  of  the 
world,  not  on  account  of  any  merit  of  ours,  but  according  to 
the  purpose  of  the  Divine  will  ;  (w)  that  by  the  death  of  Christ 
we  are  redeemed  from  the  sentence  of  death,  and  liberated  from 
perdition ;  (x)  that  in  him  we  are  adopted  as  sons  and  heirs  by 
the  heavenly  Father,  (y)  to  whom  we  have  been  reconciled  by 

(r)  Matt.  XXV.  21,  29.  (*)  Isaiah  Iv.  1.  (0  1  Cor.  iii.  10,  11. 

(u)  1  Cor.  i.  30.        (20)  Ephes.  i.  3—5.        (x)  Col.  i.  14,  20,  21.       {y)  John  i.  12. 

VOL.  II.  4 

26  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

his  blood ;  that  being  committed  to  his  protection,  we  are  not 
in  tlie  least  danger  of  perishing  ;  (z)  that  being  thus  ingrafted 
into  him,  we  are  already,  as  it  were,  partakers  of  eternal  life, 
and  entered  by  hope  into  the  kingdom  of  God ;  and  moreover, 
that  having  obtained  such  a  participation  of  him,  however 
foolish  we  may  be  in  ourselves,  he  is  our  wisdom  before  God  ; 
that  however  impure  we  are,  he  is  our  purity  ;  that  though  we 
are  weak  and  exposed  to  Satan,  yet  that  power  is  ours  which  is 
given  to  him  in  heaven  and  in  earth,  (a)  by  which  he  defeats 
Satan  for  us,  and  breaks  the  gates  of  hell ;  that  though  we 
still  carry  about  with  us  a  body  of  death,  yet  he  is  our  life ;  in 
short,  that  all  that  is  his  belongs  to  us,  and  that  we  have  every 
thing  in  him,  but  nothing  in  ourselves.  On  this  foundation,  I 
say,  it  is  necessary  for  us  to  build,  if  we  wish  to  "grow  unto 
a  holy  temple  in  the  Lord."  (b) 

VI.  But  the  world  has  long  been  taught  a  different  lesson ;  for 
1  know  not  what  good  works  of  morality  have  been  invented  to 
render  men  acceptable  to  God,  before  they  are  ingrafted  into 
Christ.  As  though  the  Scripture  were  false  in  asserting,  that 
"  he  that  hath  not  the  Son  of  God,  hath  not  life."  (c)  If  they 
are  destitute  of  life,  how  could  they  generate  any  cause  of  life  ? 
As  though  there  were  no  truth  in  the  declaration,  that  "  what- 
soever is  not  of  faith,  is  sin !  "  (d)  as  tliough  an  evil  tree  could 
produce  good  fruits !  But  what  room  have  these  most  pestilent 
sophists  left  to  Christ  for  the  exertion  of  his  power  ?  They 
say  that  he  has  merited  for  us  the  first  grace ;  that  is,  the 
opportunity  of  meriting  ;  and  that  now  it  is  our  part  not  to 
miss  the  offered  opportunity.  What  extreme  impudence  and 
impiety !  Who  would  have  expected  that  any  persons  profess- 
ing the  name  of  Christ,  would  presume  thus  to  rob  him  of  his 
power,  and  almost  to  trample  him  under  their  feet  ?  It  is 
every  where  testified  of  him,  that  all  who  believe  in  him  are 
justified :  (e)  these  men  tell  us,  that  the  only  benefit  received 
from  him  is,  that  a  way  is  opened  for  all  men  to  justify  them- 
selves. But  I  wish  that  they  had  experienced  what  is  con- 
tained in  these  passages :  "  He  that  hath  the  Son,  hath  life  ; "  (/) 
"  he  that  believeth  is  passed  from  death  unto  life  ;  "  (g)  "jus- 
tified by  his  grace,"  that  we  might  "be  made  heirs  of  eternal 
life  ;  "  (/i)  that  believers  have  Christ  abiding  in  them,  by  whom 
they  are  united  to  God  :  (?)  that  they  are  partakers  of  his  life, 
and  sit  with  him  "  in  heavenly  places ;  "  (k)  that  they  are 
translated  into  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  have  obtained  salva- 
tion;  (l)  and  innumerable  places  of  similar  import.     For  they 

(z)  John  X.  23,  29.  (^7)  Rom.  xiv.  23.  (Ii)  Rom.  iii.  24. 

(a)  Malt,  xxviii.  18.  (c)  Acts  xiii.  3!).  (i)  1  John  iii.  24. 

(h)  Ephes.  ii.  21.    Titus  iii.  7.  (/)  1  John  v.  12.  (A)  Ephcs.  ii.  G. 

(c)  I  John  V.  12.  ( «■)  John  v.  24.  (/)  Col.  i.  13. 


do  not  signify  that  by  faith  in  Christ  we  merely  gain  the 
abihty  to  attain  righteousness  or  effect  onr  salvation,  but  that 
both  are  bestowed  on  us.  Therefore,  as  soon  as  we  are 
ingrafted  into  Christ  by  faith,  we  are  already  become  sons  of 
God,  heirs  of  heaven,  partakers  of  righteousness,  possessors  of 
life,  and  (the  better  to  refute  their  falsehoods)  we  have  attained, 
not  the  opportunity  of  meriting,  but  all  the  merits  of  Christ ; 
for  they  are  all  communicated  to  us. 

VII.  Thus  the  Sorbonic  schools,  those  sources  of  all  kinds 
of  errors,  have  deprived  us  of  justification  by  faith,  which  is 
the  substance  of  all  piety.  They  grant,  indeed,  in  words,  that 
a  man  is  justified  by  faith  formed ;  but  this  they  afterwards 
explain  to  be,  because  faith  renders  good  works  effectual  to 
justification  ;  so  that  their  mention  of  faith  has  almost  the 
appearance  of  mockery,  since  it  could  not  be  passed  over  in 
silence,  while  the  Scripture  is  so  full  of  it,  without  exposing 
them  to  great  censure.  And  not  content  with  this,  they  rob 
God  of  part  of  the  praise  of  good  works,  and  transfer  it  to  man. 
Perceiving  that  good  works  avail  but  little  to  the  exaltation  of 
man,  and  that  they  cannot  properly  be  denominated  merits  if 
they  be  considered  as  the  effects  of  Divine  grace,  they  derive 
them  from  the  power  of  free-will ;  which  is  like  extracting  oil 
from  a  stone.  They  contend,  that  though  grace  be  the  princi- 
pal cause  of  them,  yet  that  this  is  not  to  the  exclusion  of  free- 
will, from  which  all  merit  originates.  And  this  is  maintained 
not  only  by  the  latter  sophists,  but  likewise  by  their  master, 
Lombard,  whom,  when  compared  with  them,  we  may  pro- 
nounce to  be  sound  and  sober.  Truly  wonderful  was  their 
blindness,  with  Augustine  so  frequently  in  their  mouths,  not  to 
see  how  solicitously  he  endeavoured  to  prevent  men  from  arro- 
gating the  least  degree  of  glory  on  account  of  good  works. 
Before,  when  we  discussed  the  question  of  free-will,  we  cited 
from  him  some  testimonies  to  this  purpose  ;  and  similar 
ones  frequently  recur  in  his  writings  ;  as  when  he  forbids  us 
ever  to  boast  of  our  merits,  since  even  they  are  the  gifts  of 
God ;  and  when  he  says,  "  that  all  our  merit  proceeds  from 
grace  alone ;  that  it  is  not  obtained  by  our  sufficiency,  but  is 
produced  entirely  by  grace,"  &c.  That  Lombard  was  blind  to 
the  light  of  Scripture,  in  which  he  appears  not  to  have  been 
so  well  versed,  need  not  excite  so  much  surprise.  Yet  nothing 
could  be  wished  for  more  explicit,  in  opposition  to  him  and 
his  disciples,  than  this  passage  of  the  apostle  ;  who,  having 
interdicted  Christians  from  all  boasting,  subjoins  as  a  reason 
why  boasting  is  unlawful,  that  '•  we  are  his  (God's)  workman- 
ship, created  in  Christ  Jesus  unto  good  works,  which  God  hath 
before  ordained  that  we  should   walk  in   them."  (w)     Since 

(m)  Ephes.  ii.  10. 

28  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

nothing  good,  then,  can  proceed  from  us  but  as  we  are  regene- 
rated, and  our  regeneration  is,  without  exception,  entirely  of  God 
we  have  no  right  to  arrogate  to  ourselves  the  smallest  particle 
of  our  good  works.  Lastly,  while  they  assiduously  inculcate 
good  works,  they  at  the  same  time  instruct  the  consciences  of 
men  in  such  a  manner,  that  they  can  never  dare  to  be  confi- 
dent that  God  is  propitious  and  favourable  to  their  works. 
But,  on  the  contrary,  our  doctrine,  without  any  mention  of 
merit,  animates  the  minds  of  believers  with  peculiar  consola- 
tion, while  we  teach  them  that  their  works  are  pleasing  to 
God,  and  that  their  persons  are  undoubtedly  accepted  by  him. 
And  we  likewise  require,  that  no  man  attempt  or  undertake 
any  work  without  faith ;  that  is,  unless  he  can  previously 
determine,  with  a  certain  confidence  of  mind,  that  it  will  be 
pleasing  to  God. 

VIII.  Wherefore  let  us  not  sufier  ourselves  to  be  seduced 
even  a  hair's  breadth  from  the  only  foundation,  on  which, 
when  it  is  laid,  wise  architects  erect  a  firm  and  regular  super- 
structure. For  if  there  be  a  necessity  for  doctrine  and  exhor- 
tation, they  apprize  us,  that  "for  this  purpose  the  Son  of  God 
was  manifested,  that  he  might  destroy  the  works  of  the  devil : 
whosoever  is  born  of  God  doth  not  commit  sin  :  "  (n)  '*  the 
time  past  of  our  life  may  suffice  us  to  have  wrought  the  will 
of  the  Gentiles ;"  (o)  the  elect  of  God  are  vessels  of  mercy 
selected  to  honour,  and  therefore  ought  to  be  cleansed  from  all 
impurity,  (p)  But  every  thing  is  said  at  once,  when  it  is 
shown  that  Christ  chooses  such  for  his  disciples  as  will  deny 
themselves,  take  up  their  cross,  aud  follow  him.  (q)  He  who  has 
denied  himself,  has  laid  the  axe  to  the  root  of  all  evils,  that  he 
may  no  longer  seek  those  things  which  are  his  own ;  he  who 
has  taken  up  his  cross,  has  prepared  himself  for  all  patience  and 
gentleness.  But  the  example  of  Christ  comprehends  not  only 
these,  but  all  other  duties  of  piety  and  holiness.  He  was 
obedient  to  his  Father,  even  to  death ;  he  was  entirely  occu- 
pied in  performing  the  works  of  God ;  he  aspired  with  his 
whole  soul  to  promote  the  glory  of  his  Father ;  he  laid  down 
his  life  for  his  brethren ;  he  both  acted  and  prayed  for  the 
benefit  of  his  enemies.  But  if  there  be  need  of  consolation, 
these  passages  will  afford  it  in  a  wonderful  degree  :  "  We  are 
troubled  on  every  side,  yet  not  distressed ;  we  are  perplexed, 
but  not  in  despair ;  persecuted,  but  not  forsaken ;  cast  down, 
but  not  destroyed ;  always  bearing  about  in  the  body  the 
dying  of  the  Lord  Jesns,  that  the  life  also  of  Jesus  might  be 
made  manifest  in  our  body."(?')     "If  we  be  dead  with  him, 

(n)  1  John  iii.  8,  9.  (o)  1  Peter  iv.  3.  (p)  2  Tim.  ii.  20.     Rom.  ix.  23. 

(j)  Luke  ix.  23.  (r)  2  Cor.  iv.  8—10. 


we  shall  also  live  with  him ;  if  we  suffer,  we  shall  also  reign 
with  him."  (t)  "  Being  made  conformable  unto  his  death  ;  if 
by  any  means  I  might  attain  unto  the  resurrection  of  the 
dead."  (u)  The  Father  has  predestinated  all  whom  he  has 
chosen  in  his  Son  "  to  be  conformed  to  his  image,  that  he 
might  be  the  first-born  among  many  brethren ;  "  and  therefore 
"  neither  death,  nor  life,  nor  things  present,  nor  things  to  come, 
shall  separate  us  from  the  love  of  God  which  is  in  Christ 
Jesus  ;  "  (w)  but  "  all  things  shall  work  together  for  good  "  (.r) 
to  us,  and  conduce  to  our  salvation.  We  do  not  justify  men 
by  works  before  God ;  but  we  say,  that  all  who  are  of  God  are 
regenerated  and  made  new  creatures,  that  they  may  depart 
from  the  kingdom  of  sin  into  the  kingdom  of  righteousness ; 
and  that  by  this  testimony  they  ascertain  their  vocation,  (y)  and, 
like  trees,  are  judged  by  their  fruits. 



The  observation  with  which  we  closed  the  preceding  chap- 
ter is,  of  itself,  sufficient  to  refute  the  impudence  of  some 
impious  persons,  who  accuse  us,  in  the  first  place,  of  destroying 
good  works,  and  seducing  men  from  the  pursuit  of  them,  when 
we  say  that  they  are  not  justified  by  works,  nor  saved  through 
their  own  merit ;  and  secondly,  of  making  too  easy  a  road  to 
righteousness,  when  we  teach  that  it  consists  in  the  gratuitous 
remission  of  sins ;  and  of  enticing  men,  by  this  allurement,  to 
the  practice  of  sin,  to  which  they  have  naturally  too  strong  a 
propensity.  These  calumnies,  I  say,  are  sufficiently  refuted  by 
that  one  observation  ;  yet  I  will  briefly  reply  to  them  both. 
They  allege  that  justification  by  faith  destroys  good  works.  I 
forbear  any  remarks  on  the  characters  of  these  zealots  for  good 
works,  who  thus  calumniate  us.  Let  them  rail  with  impunity 
as  licentiously  as  they  infest  the  whole  world  with  the  im- 
purity of  their  lives.  They  affect  to  lament  that  while  faith  is 
so  magnificently  extolled,  works  are  degraded  from  their  proper 
rank.  What  if  they  be  more  encouraged  and  established  ? 
For  we  never  dream  either  of  a  faith  destitute  of  good  works, 

(t)  2  Tim.  ii.  11,  12.  (u)  Phil.  iii.  10,  11.  (ic)  Rom.  viii.  29,  38,  39. 

(x)  Rom.  viii.  28.  (y)  2  Peter  i.  10. 

30  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

or  of  a  justification  unattended  by  them  :  this  is  the  sole  dif- 
ference, that  while  Ave  acknowledge  a  necessary  connection 
between  faith  and  good  works,  we  attribute  justification,  not 
to  works,  but  to  faith.  Our  reason  for  this  we  can  readily 
explain,  if  we  only  turn  to  Christ,  towards  whom  faith  is 
directed,  and  from  whom  it  receives  all  its  virtue.  Why,  then, 
are  we  justified  by  faith  ?  Because  by  faith  we  apprehend  the 
righteousness  of  Christ,  which  is  the  only  medium  of  our  re- 
conciliation to  God.  But  this  you  cannot  attain,  without  at  the 
same  time  attaining  to  sanctification  ;  for  he  "  is  made  unto  us 
wisdom  and  righteousness,  and  sanctification  and  redemp- 
tion." (z)  Christ  therefore  justifies  no  one  whom  he  does  not 
also  sanctify.  For  these  benefits  are  perpetually  and  indissolu- 
bly  connected,  so  that  whom  he  illuminates  with  his  wisdom, 
them  he  redeems ;  whom  he  redeems,  he  justifies ;  whom 
he  justifies,  he  sanctifies.  But  as  the  present  question  re- 
lates only  to  righteousness  and  sanctification,  let  us  in- 
sist upon  them.  We  may  distinguish  between  them,  but 
Christ  contains  both  inseparably  in  himself  Do  you  wish, 
then,  to  obtain  righteousness  in  Christ  ?  You  must  first  pos- 
sess Christ ;  but  you  cannot  possess  him  without  becoming  a 
partaker  of  his  sanctification  ;  for  he  cannot  be  divided.  Since, 
then,  the  Lord  affords  us  the  enjoyment  of  these  blessings  only 
in  the  bestowment  of  himself,  he  gives  them  both  together, 
and  never  one  without  the  other.  Thus  we  see  how  true  it  is 
that  we  are  justified,  not  without  works,  yet  not  by  works  ; 
since  union  with  Christ,  by  which  we  are  justified,  contains 
sanctification  as  well  as  righteousness. 

II.  It  is  also  exceedingly  false,  that  the  minds  of  men  are 
seduced  from  an  inclination  to  virtue,  by  our  divesting  them 
of  all  ideas  of  merit.  Here  the  reader  must  just  be  informed, 
that  they  impertinently  argue  from  reward  to  merit,  as  I  shall 
afterwards  more  fully  explain ;  because,  in  fact,  they  are  igno- 
rant of  this  principle,  that  God  is  equally  liberal  in  assigning  a 
reward  to  good  works,  as  in  imparting  an  ability  to  perform 
them.  But  this  I  would  rather  defer  to  its  proper  place.  It 
will  suffice,  at  present,  to  show  the  weakness  of  their  objection, 
which  shall  be  done  two  ways.  For,  first,  when  they  say  that 
there  will  be  no  concern  about  the  proper  regulation  of  our  life 
without  a  hope  of  reward  being  proposed,  they  altogether  de- 
ceive themselves.  If  they  only  mean  that  men  serve  God  in 
expectation  of  a  reward,  and  hire  or  sell  their  services  to  him, 
they  gain  but  little  ;  for  he  will  be  freely  worshipped  and 
freely  loved,  and  he  approves  of  that  worshipper  who,  after 
being  deprived  of  all  hope  of  receiving  any  reward,  still  ceases 

(z)  1  Cor.  i.  30. 


not  to  worship  him.  Besides,  if  men  require  to  be  stimulated, 
it  is  impossible  to  urge  more  forcible  arguments  than  those 
which  arise  from  the  end  of  our  redemption  and  calling  ; 
such  as  the  word  of  God  adduces,  when  it  inculcates,  that  it 
is  the  greatest  and  most  impious  ingratitude  not  reciprocally  to 
"  loi'e  him  who  first  loved  us ;  "  (a)  that  ''  by  the  blood  of 
Christ  our  consciences  are  purged  from  dead  works,  to  serve 
the  living  God  ;  "  (6)  that  it  is  a  horrible  sacrilege,  after  having 
been  once  purged,  to  defile  ourselves  with  new  pollutions,  and 
to  profane  that  sacred  blood ;  (c)  that  we  have  been  "delivered 
out  of  the  hand  of  our  enemies,"  that  we  "might  serve  him 
without  fear,  in  holiness  and  righteousness  before  him,  all  the 
days  of  our  life ;  "  (<i)  that  we  are  made  "free  from  sin," 
that  with  a  free  spirit  we  might  "become  the  servants  of 
righteousness  ;  "  (e)  "  that  our  old  man  is  crucified,"  that  "  we 
should  walk  in  newness  of  life."  (/)  Again :  "  If  ye  be  risen 
with  Christ,"  as  his  members  indeed  are,  "  seek  those  things 
which  are  above,"  and  conduct  yourselves  as  "  pilgrims  on  the 
earth ; "  that  you  may  aspire  towards  heaven,  where  your 
treasure  is.  (g)  That  "  the  grace  of  God  hath  appeared, 
teaching  us,  that  denying  ungodliness  and  worldly  lusts,  we 
should  live  soberly,  righteously,  and  godly,  in  this  present 
world  ;  looking  for  that  blessed  hope,  and  the  glorious  appear- 
ing of  the  great  God  and  our  Saviour."  (h)  Wherefore  "  God 
hath  not  appointed  us  to  wrath,  but  to  obtain  salvation  by 
Christ."  (i)  That  we  are  the  "  temples  of  the  Holy  Ghost," 
which  it  is  unlawful  to  profane  ;  (k)  that  we  are  not  darkness, 
"  but  light  in  the  Lord,"  whom  it  becomes  to  "  walk  as  chil- 
dren of  the  hght;"(^)  that  "God  hath  not  called  us  unto 
uncleanness,  but  unto  holiness ;  for  this  is  the  will  of  God, 
even  our  sanctification,  that  we  should  abstain  from  fornica- 
tion ;  "  (w)  that  our  calling  is  a  holy  one,  which  should  be 
followed  by  a  correspondent  purity  of  life ;  [n)  that  we  are 
"made  free  from  sin,"  that  we  might  "become  servants  of 
righteousness."  (o)  Can  we  be  incited  to  charity  by  any 
stronger  argument  than  that  of  John,  "  If  God  so  loved  us,  we 
ought  also  to  love  one  another?  "  "  in  this  the  children  of  God 
are  manifest,  and  the  children  of  the  devil ;  "  (jp)  hereby  the 
children  of  light,  by  their  abiding  in  love,  are  distinguished  from 
the  children  of  darkness  ;  or  that  of  Paul,  That  if  we  be  united 
to  Christ,  we  are  members  of  one  body,  and  ought  to  afford 
each  other  mutual  assistance  ?  [q]     Or  can  we  be  more  power- 

(a)  1  John  iv.  10, 19.  {g)  Col.  iii.  1.    Heb.  xi.  13.        (Z)  Ephes.  v.  8. 

{h)  Heb.  \x.  14.  1  Peter  ii.  11.  (m)  1  Thess.  iv.  3,  7. 

(c)  Heb.  X.  29.  (/t)  Titus  ii.  11—13.  (w)  2  Tim.  i.  9.    1  Peter  i.  15. 

{d)  Luke  i.  74,  75.  (i)  1  Thess.  v.  9.  (o)  Rom.  vi.  18. 

(e)  Rom.  vi.  18.  (k)  1  Cor.  iii.  16,17;  vi.l9.  (p)  1  John  iv.  11 ;  iii.  10. 

(J)  Rom.  vi.  4,  6.  Ephes.  ii.  21.  (j)  1  Cor.  xii.  12,  &Ai. 

32  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

fully  excited  to  holiness,  than  when  we  are  informed  by  John, 
that  "every  man  that  hath  this  hope  in  him  purifieth  him- 
self, even  as  God  is  pure  ? "  (?*)  Or  when  Paul  says,  "Hav- 
ing therefore  these  promises,  (relative  to  our  adoption,)  let 
us  cleanse  ourselves  from  all  filthiness  of  the  flesh  and 
spirit?  "(s)  or  than  when  we  hear  Christ  proposing  himself 
as  our  example,  that  we  should  follow  his  steps  ?  (t) 

III.  These  few  instances,  indeed,  I  have  given  as  a  speci- 
men ;  for  if  I  were  disposed  to  quote  every  particular  passage, 
I  should  produce  a  large  volume.  The  apostles  are  quite  full 
of  admonitions,  exhortations,  and  reproofs,  to  "  furnish  the  man 
of  God  unto  all  good  works,"  (u)  and  that  without  any  men- 
tion of  merit.  But  they  rather  deduce  their  principal  exhorta- 
tions from  this  consideration.  That  our  salvation  depends  not 
on  any  merit  of  ours,  but  merely  on  the  mercy  of  God.  As 
Paul,  after  having  very  largely  shown  that  we  can  have  no 
hope  of  life,  but  from  the  righteousness  of  Christ,  when  he 
proceeds  to  exhortations,  beseeches  us  "by  the  mercies  of 
God  "  with  which  we  have  been  favoured,  (v)  And  indeed 
this  one  reason  ought  to  be  enough ;  that  God  may  be  glori- 
fied in  lis.  (lo)  But  if  any  persons  be  not  so  powerfully  af- 
fected by  the  glory  of  God,  yet  the  remembrance  of  his  benefits 
should  be  amply  sufficient  to  incite  them  to  rectitude  of  con- 
duct. But  these  men,  who  by  the  obtrusion  of  merit  extort 
some  servile  and  constrained  acts  of  obedience  to  the  law,  are 
guilty  of  falsehood  when  they  affirm  that  we  have  no  argu- 
ments to  enforce  the  practice  of  good  works,  because  we  do 
not  proceed  in  the  same  way ;  as  though,  truly,  such  obedi- 
ence were  very  pleasing  to  God,  who  declares  that  he  "  loveth 
a  cheerful  giver;  "  and  forbids  any  thing  to  be  given  "grudg- 
ingly, or  of  necessity."  (x)  Nor  do  I  say  this,  because  I  either 
reject  or  neglect  that  kind  of  exhortation,  which  the  Scripture 
frequently  uses,  that  no  method  of  animating  us  to  our  duty 
may  be  omitted.  It  mentions  the  reward  which  "  God  will 
render  to  every  man  according  to  his  works ;  "  (y)  but  that 
this  is  the  only  argument,  or  the  principal  one,  I  deny.  In 
the  next  place,  I  assert  that  we  ought  not  to  begin  with  it. 
Moreover,  I  contend  that  it  has  no  tendency  to  establish  the 
merit  preached  by  these  men,  as  we  shall  afterwards  see  ;  and, 
lastly,  that  it  is  entirely  useless,  unless  preceded  by  this  doc- 
trine, That  we  are  justified  solely  on  account  of  the  merit  of 
Christ,  apprehended  by  faith,  and  not  on  account  of  any  merit 
in  our  own  works ;  because  none  can  be  capable  of  the  pursuit 
of  holiness,  but  such  as  have  previously  imbibed  this  doctrine. 

(r)  1  John  iii.  3.  (m)  2  Tim.  iii.  17.  (t)  2  Cor.  ix.  7. 

(s)  2  Cor.  vii.  1.  (»)   Rom.  xii.  1.  (y)  Matt.  xvi.  27. 

(0  Matt.  xi.  29.     John  xiii.  15.  (w)  Matt.  v.  16.  Rom.  li  6. 


This  sentiment  is  beautifully  suggested  by  the  Psalmist  when 
he  thus  addresses  the  Lord  :  "  There  is  forgiveness  with  thee, 
that  thou  mayest  be  feared ;  "  (z)  for  he  shows  that  there  is  no 
worship  of  God  without  an  acknowledgment  of  his  mercy,  on 
which  alone  it  is  both  founded  and  established.  And  this  well 
deserves  to  be  remarked,  in  order  that  Ave  may  know,  not  only 
that  the  true  worship  of  God  arises  from  a  re'Aance  on  his 
mercy,  but  that  the  fear  of  God  (which  the  Papists  hold  to  be 
meritorious)  cannot  be  dignified  with  the  title  o(  merit,  because 
it  is  founded  in  the  pardon  and  remission  of  sins. 

IV.  But  the  most  futile  of  all  their  calumnies  is,  that  men 
are  encouraged  to  the  practice  of  sin  by  our  maintaining  the 
gratuitous  remission  of  sins,  in  which  we  make  righteousness  to 
consist.  For  we  say  that  so  great  a  blessing  could  never  be 
compensated  by  any  virtue  of  ours,  and  that  therefore  it  could 
never  be  obtained,  unless  it  were  gratuitously  bestowed  ;  more- 
over, that  it  is  gratuitous  to  us  indeed,  but  not  so  to  Christ, 
whom  it  cost  so  much,  even  his  own  most  sacred  blood,  beside 
which  no  price  sufficiently  valuable  could  be  paid  to  Divine 
justice.  When  men  are  taught  in  this  manner,  they  are  ap- 
prized that  it  is  not  owing  to  them  that  this  most  sacred  blood 
is  not  shed  as  often  as  they  sin.  Besides,  we  learn  that  such 
is  our  pollution,  that  it  can  never  be  washed  away,  except  in 
the  fountain  of  this  immaculate  blood.  Must  not  persons  who 
hear  these  things  conceive  a  greater  horror  of  sin,  than  if  it 
were  said  to  be  cleansed  by  a  sprinkling  of  good  works  ?  And 
if  they  have  any  fear  of  God,  will  they  not  dread,  after  being 
once  purified,  to  plunge  themselves  again  into  the  mire,  and 
thereby  to  disturb  and  infect,  as  far  as  they  can,  the, purity  of 
this  fountain?  "I  have  washed  my  feet,"  (says  the  believing 
soul  in  Solomon,)  "  how  shall  I  defile  them  ?  "  (a)  Now,  it  is 
plain  which  party  better  deserves  the  charge  of  degrading  the 
value  of  remission  of  sins,  and  prostituting  the  dignity  of 
righteousness.  They  pretend  that  God  is  appeased  by  their 
frivolous  satisfactiotis,  which  are  no  better  than  dung ;  we 
assert,  that  the  guilt  of  sin  is  too  atrocious  to  be  expiated  by 
such  insignificant  trifles ;  that  the  displeasure  of  God  is  too 
great  to  be  appeased  by  these  worthless  satisfactions ;  and 
therefore  that  this  is  the  exclusive  prerogative  of  the  blood  of 
Christ.  They  say,  that  righteousness,  if  it  ever  be  defective, 
is  restored  and  repaired  by  works  of  satisfaction.  We  think  it 
so  valuable  that  no  compensation  of  works  can  be  adequate  to 
it ;  and  therefore  that  for  its  restitution  we  must  have  recourse 
to  the  mercy  of  God  alone.  The  remaining  particulars  that 
pertain  to  the  remission  of  sins  may  be  found  in  the  next 

(z)  Psalm  cxxx.  4.  (a)  Cant.  v.  3. 

VOL.    II.  5 

^  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 


THE      HARMONY      BETWEEN      THE      PROMISES      OF      THE      LAW     ANE 

Let  us  now  pursue  the  other  arguments  with  which  Satan  by 
his  satelUtes  attempts  to  destroy  or  to  weaken  justification  by 
faith.  I  think  we  have  already  gained  this  point  with  these 
calumniators  —  that  they  can  no  longer  accuse  us  of  being  ene- 
mies to  good  works.  For  we  reject  the  notion  of  justification 
by  works,  not  that  no  good  works  may  be  done,  or  that  those 
which  are  performed  may  be  denied  to  be  good,  but  that  we 
may  neither  confide  in  them,  nor  glory  in  them,  nor  ascribe 
salvation  to  them.  For  this  is  our  trust,  this  is  our  glory,  and 
the  only  anchor  of  our  salvation,  That  Christ  the  Son  of  God  is 
ours,  and  that  we  are  likewise,  in  him,  sons  of  God  and  heirs 
of  the  celestial  kingdom  ;  being  called,  not  for  our  worthiness, 
but  by  the  Divine  goodness,  to  the  hope  of  eternal  felicity. 
But  since  they  assail  us  besides,  as  we  have  observed,  with 
other  weapons,  let  us  also  proceed  to  the  repulsion  of  them. 
In  the  first  place,  they  return  to  the  legal  promises  which  the 
Lord  gave  to  the  observers  of  his  law,  and  inquire  whether  we 
suppose  them  to  be  entirely  vain,  or  of  any  validity.  As  it 
would  be  harsh  and  ridiculous  to  say  they  are  vain,  they  take 
it  for  granted  that  they  have  some  efficacy.  Hence  they 
argue,  that  we  are  not  justified  by  faith  alone.  For  thus  saith 
the  Lord,  "  Wherefore  it  shall  come  to  pass,  if  ye  hearken  to 
these  judgments,  and  keep  and  do  them,  that  the  Lord  thy 
God  shall  keep  unto  thee  the  covenant  and  the  mercy  which  he 
sware  unto  thy  fathers  ;  and  he  will  love  thee,  and  bless  thee, 
and  multiply  thee."  (6)  Again:  "If  ye  thoroughly  amend 
your  ways  and  your  doings ;  if  ye  thoroughly  execute  judg- 
ment between  a  man  and  his  neighbour ;  if  ye  oppress  not, 
neither  walk  after  other  gods  ;  then  will  I  cause  you  to  dwell 
in  this  place,"  &c.  (c)  I  am  not  willing  to  recite  a  thousand  pas- 
sages of  the  same  kind,  which,  not  being  different  in  sense,  will 
be  elucidated  by  an  explanation  of  these.  The  sum  of  all  is 
declared  by  Moses,  who  says  that  in  the  law  are  proposed  "a 
blessing  and  a  curse,  life  and  death."  (d)  Now,  they  argue, 
either  that  this  blessing  becomes  inefficacious  and  nugatory,  or 
that  justification  is  not  by  faith  alone.  We  have  already 
shown,  how,  if  we  adhere  to  the  law,  being  destitute  of  every 

(6)  Deut.  vii.  12,  13.  (c)  Jer.  vii.  5—7.  (rf)  Deut.  x\.  26  ;  xxx.  15. 


blessing,  we  are  obnoxious  to  the  curse  which  is  denounced  on 
all  transgressors.  For  the  Lord  promises  nothing,  except  to 
the  perfect  observers  of  his  law,  of  which  description  not  one 
can  be  found.  The  consequence  then  is,  that  all  mankind  are 
proved  by  the  law  to  be  obnoxious  to  the  curse  and  wrath  of 
God  ;  in  order  to  be  saved  from  which,  they  need  deliverance 
from  the  power  of  the  law,  and  emancipation  from  its  servi- 
tude ;  not  a  carnal  liberty,  which  would  seduce  us  from  obedi- 
ence to  the  law,  invite  to  all  kinds  of  licentiousness,  break 
down  the  barriers  of  inordinate  desire,  and  give  the  reins  to 
every  lawless  passion  ;  but  a  spiritual  liberty,  which  will  con- 
sole and  elevate  a  distressed  and  dejected  conscience,  showing 
it  to  be  delivered  from  the  curse  and  condemnation  under 
which  it  was  held  by  the  law.  This  liberation  from  subjection 
to  the  law,  and  manumission,  (if  I  may  use  the  term.)  we 
attain,  when  we  apprehend  by  faith  the  mercy  of  God  in 
Christ,  by  which  we  are  assured  of  the  remission  of  sins,  by 
the  sense  of  which  the  law  penetrated  us  with  compunction 
and  remorse. 

II.  For  this  reason  all  the  promises  of  the  law  would  be 
ineffectual  and  vain,  unless  we  were  assisted  by  the  goodness 
of  God  in  the  gospel.  For  the  condition  of  a  perfect  obe- 
dience to  the  law,  on  which  they  depend,  and  in  consequence 
of  wh'ch  alone  they  are  to  be  fulfilled,  will  never  be  performed. 
Now,  the  Lord  affords  this  assistance,  not  by  leaving  a  part  of 
righteousness  in  our  works,  and  supplying  part  from  his  mercy, 
but  by  appointing  Christ  alone  for  the  completion  of  right- 
eousness. For  the  apostle,  having  said  that  he  and  other  Jews, 
"  knowing  that  a  man  is  not  justified  by  the  works  of  the  law, 
believed  in  Christ,"  adds  as  a  reason,  not  that  they  might  be 
assisted  to  obtain  a  complete  righteousness  by  faith  in  Christ, 
but  "  that  they  might  be  justified  by  the  faith  of  Christ,  and 
not  by  the  works  of  the  law."  (e)  If  the  faithful  pass  from  the 
law  to  faith,  to  find  righteousness  in  the  latter,  which  they 
perceive  to  be  wanting  in  the  former,  they  certainly  renounce 
the  righteousness  of  the  law.  Therefore  let  whosoever  will 
now  amplify  the  rewards  which  are  said  to  await  the  observer 
of  the  law ;  only  let  him  remark,  that  our  depravity  prevents 
us  from  receiving  any  benefit  from  them,  till  we  have  obtained 
by  faith  another  righteousness.  Thus  David,  after  having 
mentioned  the  reward  which  the  Lord  has  prepared  for  his 
servants,  immediately  proceeds  to  the  acknowledgment  of  sins, 
by  which  it  is  annulled.  In  the  nineteenth  psalm,  likewise,  he 
magnificently  celebrates  the  benefits  of  the  law ;  but  imme- 
diately exclaims,  "  Who  can  understand  his  errors  ?     cleanse 

(e)  Gal.  ii.  16 

36  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

thou  me  from  secret  faults."  (/)  This  passage  perfectly  ac- 
cords with  that  before  referred  to,  where,  after  having  said, 
"  All  the  paths  of  the  Lord  are  mercy  and  truth  unto  such  as 
keep  his  covenant  and  his  testimonies,"  he  adds,  "  For  thy 
name's  sake,  O  Lord,  pardon  mnie  iniquity  ;  for  it  is  great."  (g) 
So  we  ought  also  to  acknowledge,  that  the  Divine  favour  is 
offered  to  us  in  the  law,  if  we  could  purchase  it  by  our  works ; 
but  that  no  merit  of  ours  can  ever  obtain  it. 

III.  What,  then,  it  will  be  said,  were  those  promises  given,  to 
vanish  away  without  producing  any  effect  ?  I  have  already 
declared  that  this  is  not  my  opinion.  I  assert,  indeed,  that 
they  have  no  efficacy  with  respect  to  us  as  long  as  they  are 
referred  to  the  merit  of  works ;  wherefore,  considered  in  them- 
selves, they  are  in  some  sense  abolished.  Thus  that  grand 
promise,  "  Keep  my  statutes  and  judgments ;  which  if  a  man 
do,  he  shall  live  in  them  ;  "  (h)  the  apostle  maintains  to  be  of 
no  value  to  us,  if  we  rest  upon  it,  and  that  it  will  be  no  more 
beneficial  to  us  than  if  it  had  never  been  given ;  because  it  is 
inapplicable  to  the  holiest  of  God's  servants,  who  are  all  far 
from  fulfilling  the  law,  and  are  encompassed  with  a  multitude  of 
transgressions.  (^)  But  when  these  are  superseded  by  the  evan- 
gelical promises,  which  proclaim  the  gratuitous  remission  of 
sins,  the  consequence  is,  that  not  only  our  persons,  but  also  our 
works,  are  accepted  by  God  ;  and  not  accepted  only,  but  fol- 
lowed by  those  blessings,  wliich  were  due  by  the  covenant 
to  the  observance  of  the  law.  I  grant,  therefore,  that  the 
works  of  believers  are  rewarded  by  those  things  which  the 
Lord  has  promised  in  his  law  to  the  followers  of  righteousness 
and  holiness ;  but  in  this  retribution  it  is  always  necessary  to 
consider  the  cause,  which  conciliates  such  favour  to  those 
works.  Now,  this  we  perceive  to  be  threefold :  The  first  is. 
That  God,  averting  his  eyes  from  the  actions  of  his  servants, 
which  are  invariably  more  deserving  of  censure  than  of  praise, 
receives  and  embraces  them  in  Christ,  and  by  the  intervention 
of  faith  alone  reconciles  them  to  himself  without  the  assistance 
of  works.  The  second  is.  That  in  his  paternal  benignity  and 
indulgence,  he  overlooks  the  intrinsic  worth  of  these  works, 
and  exalts  them  to  such  honour,  that  he  esteems  them  of  some 
degree  of  value.  The  third  cause  is.  That  he  pardons  these 
works  as  he  receives  them,  not  imputing  the  imperfection  with 
svhich  they  are  all  so  defiled,  that  they  might  otherwise  be 
accounted  rather  sins  than  virtues.  Hence  it  appears  how 
great  has  been  the  delusion  of  the  sophists,  who  thought  that 
they  had  dexterously  avoided  all  absurdities  by  saying  that 
works  are  sufficient  to  merit  salvation,  not  on  account  of  their 

(/)  Psalm  xix  12.  (A)  Lev.  xviii.  5. 

(g)  Psalm  XXV.  10,  11.  (i)  Rom.  x.  5,  &c. 


own  intrinsic  goodness,  but  by  reason  of  the  covenant,  because 
the  Lord  in  his  mercy  has  estimated  them  so  highly.  But  at 
the  same  time,  they  had  not  observed  how  far  the  works, 
which  they  styled  meritorious,  fell  short  of  the  condition  of  the 
promise ;  unless  they  were  preceded  by  justification  founded 
on  faith  alone,  and  by  remission  of  sins,  by  which  even  good 
works  require  to  be  purified  from  blemishes.  Therefore,  of  the 
three  causes  of  the  Divine  goodness,  in  consequence  of  which 
the  works  of  believers  are  accepted,  they  only  noticed  one, 
and  suppressed  two  others,  and  those  the  principal. 

IV.  They  allege  the  declaration  of  Peter,  which  Luke  recites 
in  the  Acts  :  "  Of  a  truth  I  perceive  that  God  is  no  respecter  of 
persons ;  but  in  every  nation  he  that  worketh  righteousness  is 
accepted  with  him."  (k)  And  hence  they  conclude,  what 
they  think  admits  of  no  doubt,  that  if  a  man  by  rectitude  of 
conduct  conciliate  to  himself  the  favour  of  God,  the  grace  of 
God  is  not  the  sole  cause  of  his  salvation ;  moreoA'^er,  that  God 
of  his  own  mercy  assists  a  sinner  in  such  a  manner,  as  to  be 
influenced  to  the  exercise  of  mercy  by  his  works.  But  we 
cannot  by  any  means  reconcile  the  Scriptures  with  themselves, 
unless  we  observe  a  twofold  acceptance  of  man  with  God. 
For  God  finds  nothing  in  man,  in  his  native  condition,  to 
incline  him  to  mercy,  but  mere  misery.  If,  then,  it  is  evident 
that  man  is  entirely  destitute  of  all  good,  and  full  of  every  kind 
of  evil,  when  he  is  first  received  by  God,  by  what  good  qualities 
shall  we  pronounce  him  entitled  to  the  heavenly  calling  ?  Let 
us  reject,  therefore,  all  vain  imagination  of  merits,  where  God 
so  evidently  displays  his  unmerited  clemency.  The  declaration 
of  the  angel  to  Cornelius  in  the  same  passage,  "  Thy  prayers 
and  thine  alms  are  come  up  for  a  memorial  before  God," 
they  most  wickedly  pervert  to  prove  that  the  practice  of  good 
works  prepares  a  man  to  receive  the  grace  of  God.  For 
Cornelius  must  have  been  already  illuminated  with  the  Spirit 
of  wisdom,  since  he  was  endued  with  the  fear  of  God,  Avhich 
is  true  wisdom  ;  and  he  must  have  been  sanctified  by  the  same 
Spirit,  since  he  was  a  follower  of  righteousness,  which  the 
apostle  represents  as  one  of  the  Spirit's  most  certain  fruits,  (l) 
It  was  from  the  grace  of  God,  then,  that  he  derived  all  these 
things  in  which  he  is  said  to  have  pleased  him ;  so  far  was  he 
from  preparing  himself  to  receive  it  by  the  exercise  of  his  own 
powers.  There  cannot  indeed  be  adduced  a  single  syllable  of  the 
Scripture,  which  is  not  in  harmony  with  this  doctrine  ;  That  there 
is  no  other  cause  for  God's  reception  of  man  into  his  love,  than 
his  knowledge  that  man,  if  abandoned  by  him,  would  be  utterly 
loFt ;  and  because  it  is  not  his  will  to  abandon  him  to  perdition, 

(k)  Acts  X.  34,  35.  (I)  Gal.  v.  5 

38  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    HI. 

he  displays  his  mercy  in  his  deliverance.  Now,  we  see  that 
this  acceptance  is  irrespective  of  the  righteousness  of  man,  but 
is  an  unequivocal  proof  of  the  Divine  goodness  towards  mise- 
rable sinners,  who  are  infinitely  im worthy  of  so  great  a  favour. 
V.  After  the  Lord  has  recovered  a  man  from  the  abyss  of 
perdition,  and  separated  him  to  himself  by  the  grace  of  adop- 
tion, —  because  he  has  regenerated  him,  and  raised  him  to  a  new 
life,  he  now  receives  and  embraces  him,  as  a  new  creature,  with 
the  gifts  of  his  Spirit.  This  is  the  acceptance  mentioned  by 
Peter,  in  which  even  the  works  of  believers  after  their  voca- 
tion are  approved  by  God ;  for  the  Lord  cannot  but  love  and 
accept  those  good  effects  which  are  produced  in  them  by  his 
Spirit.  But  it  must  always  be  remembered,  that  they  are 
accepted  by  God  in  consequence  of  their  works,  only  because, 
for  their  sakes  and  the  favour  which  he  bears  to  them,  he 
deigns  to  accept  whatever  goodness  he  has  liberally  communi- 
cated to  their  works.  For  whence  proceeds  the  goodness  of 
their  works,  but  from  the  Lord's  determination  to  adorn  with 
true  purity  those  whom  he  has  chosen  as  vessels  of  honour  ? 
And  how  is  it  that  they  are  accounted  good,  as  though  they 
were  free  from  all  imperfection,  except  from  the  mercy  of  their 
Father,  who  pardons  the  blemishes  which  adhere  to  them  ?  In 
a  word,  Peter  intends  nothing  else  in  this  passage,  but  that  God 
accepts  and  loves  his  children,  in  whom  he  beholds  the  marks 
and  lineaments  of  his  own  countenance  ;  for  we  have  elsewhere 
shown  that  regeneration  is  a  reparation  of  the  Divine  image  in 
us.  Wherever  the  Lord  contemplates  his  own  likeness,  he 
justly  both  loves  and  honours  it.  The  life  of  his  children, 
therefore,  being  devoted  to  holiness  and  righteousness,  is  truly 
represented  as  pleasing  to  him.  But  as  the  faithful,  while  they 
are  surrounded  with  mortal  flesh,  are  still  sinners,  and  all  their 
works  are  imperfect,  and  tainted  with  the  vices  of  the  flesh,  he 
cannot  be  propitious  either  to  their  persons  or  to  their  works, 
without  regarding  them  in  Christ  rather  than  in  themselves. 
It  is  in  this  sense  that  those  passages  must  be  understood, 
which  declare  God  to  be  merciful  and  compassionate  to  the 
followers  of  righteousness.  Moses  said  to  the  Israelites,  "The 
Lord  thy  God,  which  keepeth  covenant  and  mercy  with  them 
that  love  him  and  keep  his  commandments,  to  a  thousand 
generations  "  (m)  —  a  sentence  which  was  afterwards  in  frequent 
use  among  that  people.  Thus  Solomon,  in  his  solemn  prayer: 
"  Lord  God  of  Israel,  who  keepest  covenant  and  mercy  with 
thy  servants  that  walk  before  thee  with  all  their  heart."  (n) 
The  same  language  is  also  repeated  by  Nehemiah.  (o)  For  as, 
m  all  the  covenants  of  his  mercy,  the  Lord  stipulates  with  his 

(m)  Deut.  vii.  9.  (n)  1  Kings  viii.  23.  (o)  Neh,  i.  5. 


servants  for  integrity  and  sanctity  in  their  lives,  that  his  good- 
ness may  not  become  an  object  of  contempt,  and  that  no  man 
infected  with  a  vain  confidence  in  his  mercy,  (p)  may  bless 
himself  in  his  mind  while  walking  in  the  depravity  of  his 
heart,  so  he  designs  by  these  means  to  confine  to  their  duty 
all  that  are  admitted  to  the  participation  of  his  covenant ;  yet, 
nevertheless,  the  covenant  is  originally  constituted  and  perpetu- 
ally remains  altogether  gratuitous.  For  this  reason,  David, 
though  he  declares  that  he  had  been  rewarded  for  the  pmity  of 
his  hands,  does  not  overlook  that  original  source  which  I  have 
mentioned :  "  He  delivered  me.  because  he  delighted  in  me  ;  "  (9) 
where  he  commends  the  goodness  of  his  cause,  so  as  not  to 
derogate  from  the  gratuitous  mercy  which  precedes  all  the 
gifts  that  originate  from  it. 

VI.  And  here  it  will  be  useful  to  remark,  by  the  way,  what 
difference  there  is  between  such  forms  of  expression  and  the 
legal  promises.  By  legal  promises  I  intend,  not  all  those  which 
are  contained  in  the  books  of  Moses,  —  since  in  those  books  there 
likewise  occur  many  evangelical  ones,  —  but  such  as  properly 
pertain  to  the  ministry  of  the  law.  Such  promises,  by  what- 
ever appellation  they  may  be  distinguished,  proclaim  that  a 
reward  is  ready  to  be  bestowed,  on  condition  that  we  perform 
what  is  commanded.  But  when  it  is  said  that  "  the  Lord 
keepeth  covenant  and  mercy  with  them  that  love  him,"  this 
rather  designates  the  characters  of  his  servants,  who  have  faith- 
fully received  his  covenant,  than  expresses  the  causes  of  his 
beneficence  to  them.  Now,  this  is  the  way  to  prove  it  :  As  the 
Lord  favours  us  with  the  hope  of  eternal  life,  in  order  that  he 
may  be  loved,  reverenced,  and  worshipped  by  us,  therefore  all 
the  promises  of  mercy  contained  in  the  Scriptures  are  justly 
directed  to  this  end,  that  we  may  revere  and  worship  the 
Author  of  our  blessings.  Whenever,  therefore,  we  hear  of  his 
beneficence  to  them  who  observe  his  laws,  let  us  remember  that 
the  children  of  God  are  designated  by  the  duty  in  which  they 
ought  always  to  be  found  ;  and  that  we  are  adopted  as  his  chil- 
dren, in  order  that  we  may  venerate  him  as  our  Father.  There- 
fore, that  we  may  not  renounce  the  privilege  of  our  adoption, 
we  ought  to  aim  at  that  which  is  the  design  of  our  vocation. 
On  the  other  hand,  however,  we  may  be  assured,  tl  at  the 
accomplishment  of  God's  mercy  is  independent  of  the  works 
of  believers ;  but  that  he  fulfils  the  promise  of  salvation  to 
them  whose  vocation  is  followed  by  a  correspondent  rectitude 
of  life,  because  in  them  who  are  directed  by  his  Spirit  to  good 
works,  he  recognizes  the  genuine  characters  of  his  children. 
To  this  must  be  referred  what  is  said  of  the  citizens  of  the 

(p)  Deut.  xxix.  19,  20.  (q)  2  Sam.  xxii.  20,  21. 


Church  :  "  Lord,  who  shall  abide  in  thy  tabernacle  ?  who  shall 
dwell  in  thy  holy  hill  ?  He  that  walketh  uprightly,  and 
worketh  righteousness,  "  &c.  (/•)  And  in  Isaiah  :  "  Who  shall 
dwell  with  the  devouring  fire  ?  He  that  walketh  righteously, 
and  speaketh  uprightly,"  &c.  (s)  For  these  passages  describe, 
not  the  foundation  which  supports  the  faithful  before  God,  but 
the  manner  in  which  their  most  merciful  Father  introduces 
them  into  communion  with  him,  and  preserves  and  confirms 
them  in  it.  For  as  he  detests  sin,  and  loves  righteousness 
those  whom  he  unites  to  him  he  purifies  by  his  Spirit,  in  order 
to  conform  them  to  himself  and  his  kingdom.  Therefore,  if  it 
be  inquired  what  is  the  first  cause  which  gives  the  saints  an 
entrance  into  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  which  makes  their 
continuance  in  it  permanent,  the  answer  is  ready  ;  Because 
the  Lord  in  his  mercy  has  once  adopted  and  perpetually 
defends  them.  But  if  the  question  relate  to  the  manner  in 
Avhich  he  does  this,  it  will  then  be  necessary  to  advert  to 
regeneration  and  its  fruits,  which  are  enumerated  in  the  psalm 
that  we  have  just  quoted. 

Vn.  But  there  appears  to  be  much  greater  difficulty  in  those 
places  which  dignify  good  works  with  the  title  of  righteons- 
7iess,  and  assert  that  a  man  is  justified  by  them.  Of  the  former 
kind  there  are  many,  where  the  observance  of  the  commands 
is  denominated  justification  or  righteousness.  An  example  of 
the  other  kind  we  find  in  Moses  :  "  And  it  shall  be  our  right- 
eousness, if  we  observe  to  do  all  these  commandments."  (/)  If 
it  be  objected  that  this  is  a  legal  promise,  which,  having  an 
impossible  condition  annexed  to  it,  proves  nothing,  —  there  are 
other  passages  which  will  not  admit  of  a  similar  reply ;  such 
as,  "  In  case  thou  shalt  deliver  him  the  pledge,  &c.,  it  shall  be 
righteousness  unto  thee  before  the  Lord."  (ii)  Similar  to  this 
is  what  the  Psalmist  says,  that  the  zeal  of  Phinehas  in  aveng- 
ing the  disgrace  of  Israel,  "  was  counted  unto  him  for  right- 
eousness." (?^)  Therefore  the  Pharisees  of  our  day  suppose 
that  these  passages  afford  ample  ground  for  their  clamour 
against  us.  For  when  we  say,  that  if  the  righteousness  of 
faith  be  established,  there  is  an  end  of  justification  by  works,  — • 
they  argue,  in  the  same  manner,  that  if  righteousness  be  by 
works,  then  it  is  not  true  that  we  are  justified  by  faith  alone. 
Though  I  grant  that  the  precepts  of  the  law  are  termed  right- 
eousness, there  is  nothing  surprising  in  this  ;  for  they  are  so  in 
reality.  The  reader,  however,  ought  to  be  apprized  that  the 
Hebrew  word  □^pn  {commandments)  is  not  well  translated  by 
the  Greek  word  (Juaiw/jiaTa,  (righteousness.)     But  I  readily  relin- 

(r)  Psalm  xv.  1,  2.  (s)  Isaiah  xxxiii.  14,  15.  (t)  Deut.  vi.  25. 

(«)  Deut.  xxiv.  13.  {w)  Psalm  cvi.  30,  31. 


quish  all  controversy  regDCCting  the  word.  Nor  do  we  deny- 
that  the  Divme  law  conjams  perfect  righteousness.  For  al- 
though, bemg  under  an  obligation  to  fulfil  all  its  precepts,  we 
should,  even  after  a  perfect  obedience  to  it,  only  be  unprofitable 
servants,  —  yet,  since  the  Lord  has  honoured  the  observance  of 
it  with  the  title  of  righteousness,  we  would  not  detract  from 
what  he  has  given.  We  freely  acknowledge,  therefore,  that 
the  perfect  obedience  of  the  law  is  righteousness,  and  that  the 
observance  of  every  particular  command  is  a  part  of  righteous- 
ness ;  since  complete  righteousness  consists  of  all  the  parts. 
But  we  deny  that  such  a  kind  of  righteousness  any  where  ex- 
ists. And  therefore  we  reject  the  righteousness  of  the  law ; 
not  that  it  is  of  itself  defective  and  mutilated,  but  because,  on 
account  of  the  debility  of  our  flesh,  {x)  it  is  no  where  to  be 
found.  It  may  be  said,  that  the  Scripture  not  only  calls  the 
Divine  precepts  righteousnesses,  but  gives  this  appellation  also  to 
the  works  of  the  saints.  As  where  it  relates  of  Zacharias  and 
his  wife,  that  "  they  were  both  righteous  before  God,  walking  in 
all  his  commandments :  "  (y)  certainly,  when  it  speaks  thus,  it 
estimates  their  works  rather  according  to  the  nature  of  the  law, 
than  according  to  the  actual  condition  of  the  persons.  Here  it  is 
necessary  to  repeat  the  observation  which  I  have  just  made, 
that  no  rule  is  to  be  drawn  from  the  incautiousness  of  the 
Greek  translator.  But  as  Luke  has  not  thought  proper  to  alter 
the  common  version,  neither  will  I  contend  for  it.  Those 
things  which  are  commanded  in  the  law,  God  has  enjoined 
upon  man  as  necessary  to  righteousness  ;  but  that  righteousness 
we  do  not  fulfil  without  observing  the  whole  law,  which  is 
broken  by  every  act  of  transgression.  Since  the  law,  there- 
fore, only  prescribes  a  righteousness,  if  we  contemplate  the 
law  itself,  all  its  distinct  commands  are  parts  of  righteousness  ; 
if  we  consider  men,  by  whom  they  are  performed,  they  cannot 
obtain  the  praise  of  righteousness  from  one  act,  while  they  are 
transgressors  in  many,  and  while  that  same  act  is  partly  vicious 
by  reason  of  its  imperfection. 

VIII.  But  I  proceed  to  the  second  class  of  texts,  in  which 
the  principal  difficulty  lies.  Paul  urges  nothing  more  forcible 
in  proof  of  justification  by  faith,  than  what  is  stated  respecting 
Abraham  —  that  he  "believed  God,  audit  was  counted  unto 
him  for  righteousness."  (z)  Since  the  action  of  Phinehas, 
therefore,  is  said  to  have  been  "  counted  unto  him  for  right- 
eousness," (a)  we  may  also  use  the  same  argument  concerning 
works,  which  Paul  insists  on  respecting  faith.  Therefore  our 
adversaries,  as  though  they  had  established  the  point,  determine 

(x)  Rom.  viii.  3.  (z)  Rom.  iv.  3.     Gal.  iii.  6. 

(y)  Luke  i.  6.  (a)  Psalm  cvi.  31. 

,.  II.  6 

42  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

that  we  are  justified  neither  without  faith,  nor  by  faith  alone  ; 
and  that  our  righteousness  is  completed  by  works.  Therefore 
I  conjure  believers,  if  they  know  that  the  true  rule  of  righteous- 
ness is  to  be  sought  in  the  Scripture  alone,  to  accompany  me 
in  a  serious  and  solemn  examination  how  the  Scripture  may  be 
properly  reconciled  with  itself  without  any  sophistry.  Paul, 
knowing  the  righteousness  of  faith  to  be  the  refuge  of  those 
who  are  destitute  of  any  righteousness  of  their  own,  boldly 
infers  that  all  who  are  justified  by  faith,  are  excluded  from 
the  righteousness  of  works.  It  being  likewise  evident,  on  the 
other  hand,  that  this  is  common  to  all  believers,  he  with 
equal  confidence  concludes  that  no  man  is  justified  by  works, 
but  rather,  on  the  contrary,  that  we  are  justified  independently 
of  all  works.  But  it  is  one  thing  to  dispute  concerning  the 
intrinsic  value  of  works,  and  another,  to  argue  respecting  the 
place  they  ought  to  hold  after  the  establishment  of  the  right- 
eousness of  faith.  If  we  are  to  determine  the  value  of  works 
by  their  own  worthiness,  we  say  that  they  are  unworthy  to 
appear  in  the  sight  of  God ;  that  there  is  nothing  in  our  works 
of  which  we  can  glory  before  God  ;  and  consequently,  that 
being  divested  of  all  assistance  from  works,  we  are  justified  by 
faith  alone.  Now,  we  describe  this  righteousness  in  the  follow- 
ing manner :  That  a  sinner,  being  admitted  to  communion 
with  Christ,  is  by  his  grace  reconciled  to  God  ;  while,  being 
purified  by  his  blood,  he  obtains  remission  of  sins,  and  being 
clothed  with  his  righteousness,  as  if  it  were  his  own,  he  stands 
secure  before  the  heavenly  tribunal.  Where  remission  of  sins 
has  been  previously  received,  the  good  works  which  succeed 
are  estimated  far  beyond  their  intrinsic  merit ;  for  all  their 
imperfections  are  covered  by  the  perfection  of  Christ,  and  all 
their  blemishes  are  removed  by  his  purity,  that  they  may  not 
be  scrutinized  by  the  Divine  judgment.  The  guilt,  therefore, 
of  all  transgressions,  by  which  men  are  prevented  from  ofiTering 
any  thing  acceptable  to  God  being  obliterated,  and  the  imperfec- 
tion, which  universally  deforms  even  the  good  works  of  believers, 
being  buried  in  oblivion,  their  works  are  accounted  righteous, 
or,  which  is  the  same  thing,  are  imputed  for  righteousness. 

IX.  Now,  if  any  one  urge  this  to  me  as  an  objection,  to 
oppose  the  righteousness  of  faith,  I  will  first  ask  him,  Whether 
a  man  is  reputed  righteous  on  account  of  one  or  two  holy 
works,  who  is  in  the  other  actions  of  his  life  a  transgressor  of 
the  law.  This  would  be  too  absurd  to  be  pretended.  I  shall 
next  inquire.  If  he  is  reputed  righteous  on  account  of  many 
good  works,  while  he  is  found  guilty  of  any  instance  of  trans- 
gression. This,  likewise,  my  adversary  will  not  presume  to 
maintain,  in  opposition  to  the  sanction  of  the  law,  which  de- 
nounces a  curse  on  all  those  who  do  not  fulfil  every  one  of  its 


precepts,  (b)  I  will  further  inquire,  If  there  is  any  work 
which  does  not  deserve  the  charge  of  impurity  or  imperfec- 
tion, (c)  But  how  could  this  be  possible  before  those  eyes,  in 
which  the  stars  are  not  sufficiently  pure,  nor  the  angels  suffi- 
ciently righteous  ?  Thus  he  will  be  compelled  to  concede,  that 
there  is  not  -^  good  work  to  be  found,  which  is  not  too  much 
polluted,  both  by  its  own  imperfection  and  by  the  transgressions 
with  which  it  is  attended,  to  have  any  claim  to  the  honourable 
appellation  of  righteousness.  Now,  if  it  be  evidently  in  con- 
sequence of  justification  by  faith,  that  works,  otherwise  impure 
and  imperfect,  unworthy  of  the  sight  of  God,  and  much  more  of 
his  approbation,  are  imputed  for  righteousness,  —  why  do  they 
attempt,  by  boasting  of  the  righteousness  of  works,  to  destroy  the 
righteousness  of  faith,  from  which  all  righteousness  of  works  pro- 
ceeds ?  But  do  they  wish  to  produce  a  viperous  oifspring  to  de- 
stroy the  parent  ?  For  such  is  the  true  tendency  of  this  impious 
doctrine.  They  cannot  deny  that  justification  by  faith  is  the  be- 
ginning, foundation,  cause,  motive,  and  substance  of  the  right- 
eousness of  works  ;  yet  they  conclude,  that  a  man  is  not  justified 
by  faith  because  good  works  also  are  imputed  for  righteousness. 
Let  us  therefore  leave  these  impertinences,  and  acknowledge 
the  real  state  of  the  case  ;  if  all  the  righteousness  which  can  be 
attributed  to  works  depends  on  justification  by  faith,  the  latter  is 
not  only  not  diminished,  but,  on  the  contrary,  is  confirmed  by  it ; 
since  its  influence  appears  the  more  extensive.  But  let  us  not 
suppose  that  works,  subsequent  to  gratuitous  justification,  are 
so  highly  esteemed,  that  they  succeed  to  the  office  of  justifying 
men,  or  divide  that  office  with  faith.  For  unless  justification 
by  faith  remain  always  unimpaired,  the  impurity  of  their  works 
will  be  detected.  Nor  is  there  any  absurdity  in  saying,  that  a 
man  is  so  justified  by  faith,  that  he  is  not  only  righteous  him- 
self, but  that  even  his  works  are  accounted  righteous  beyond 
what  they  deserve. 

X.  In  this  way  we  will  admit,  not  only  a  partial  righteous- 
ness of  works,  which  our  opponents  maintain,  but  such  as  is 
approved  by  God,  as  though  it  were  perfect  and  complete.  A 
remembrance  of  the  foundation  on  which  it  stands  will  solve 
every  difficulty.  For  no  work  is  ever  acceptable,  till  it  be 
received  with  pardon.  Now,  whence  proceeds  pardon,  but  from 
God's  beholding  us  and  all  our  actions  in  Christ  ?  When  we 
are  ingrafted  into  Christ,  therefore,  as  our  persons  appear  right- 
eous before  God,  because  our  iniquities  are  covered  by  his 
righteousness,  so  our  works  are  accounted  righteous,  because 
the  sinfulness  otherwise  belonging  to  them  is  not  imputed,  be- 
ing all  buried  in  the  purity  of  Christ.     So  we  may  justly 

(6)  Deut.  xxvii.  26.  (c)  Job  iv.  18;  xv.  15;  xxv.  5. 

44  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

assert,  that  not  only  our  persons,  but  even  our  works,  are  justi- 
fied by  faith  alone.  Now,  if  this  righteousness  of  works, 
whatever  be  its  nature,  is  consequent  and  dependent  on  faith 
and  gratuitous  justification,  it  ought  to  be  included  under  it, 
and  subordinated  to  it,  as  an  effect  to  its  cause ;  so  far  is  it 
from  deserving  to  be  exalted,  either  to  destroy  or  to  obscure 
the  righteousness  of  faith.  Thus  Paul,  to  evince  that  oui 
blessedness  depends  on  the  mercy  of  God,  and  not  on  oui 
works,  chiefly  urges  this  declaration  of  David :  "  Blessed  are 
they  whose  iniquities  are  forgiven,  and  whose  sins  are  covered. 
Blessed  is  the  man  to  whom  the  Lord  will  not  impute  sin."  [d) 
If,  in  opposition  to  this,  the  numerous  passages  be  adduced 
where  blessedness  seems  to  be  attributed  to  works ;  such  as, 
*'  Blessed  is  the  man  that  feareth  the  Lord  ;  (e)  that  hath  mercy 
on  the  poor;(/)  that  walketh  not  in  the  counsel  of  the  un- 
godly ;  [g)  that  endureth  temptation  ;  "  (/i)  "  Blessed  are  they 
that  keep  judgment ;  [i]  the  undefiled,  (k)  the  poor  in  spirit, 
the  meek,  the  merciful,"  &c. ;  [1)  they  will  not  at  all  weaken 
the  truth  of  what  is  advanced  by  Paul.  For  since  no  man 
ever  attains  all  these  characters,  so  as  thereby  to  gain  the  Divine 
approbation,  it  appears  that  men  are  always  miserable  till  they 
are  delivered  from  misery  by  the  pardon  of  their  sms.  Since  all 
the  beatitudes  celebrated  in  the  Scriptures  are  of  no  avail,  and 
no  man  can  derive  any  benefit  from  them,  till  he  has  obtained 
blessedness  by  the  remission  of  his  sins,  which  then  makes 
room  for  the  other  beatitudes,  it  follows  that  this  is  not 
merely  the  noblest  and  principal,  but  the  only  blessedness ; 
unless,  indeed,  we  suppose  it  to  be  diminished  by  those  which 
are  dependent  on  it.  Now,  we  have  much  less  reason  to  be 
disturbed  by  the  appellation  of  righteous,  which  is  generally 
given  to  believers.  I  acknowledge  that  they  are  denomi- 
nated righteous  from  the  sanctity  of  their  lives ;  but  as  they 
rather  devote  themselves  to  the  pursuit  of  righteousness  than 
actually  attain  to  righteousness  itself,  it  is  proper  that  this 
righteousness,  such  as  it  is,  should  be  subordinate  to  justifica- 
tion by  faith,  from  which  it  derives  its  origin. 

XL  But  our  adversaries  say  that  we  have  yet  more  difficulty 
with  James,  since  he  contradicts  us  in  express  terms.  For  he 
teaches,  that  "Abraham  was  justified  by  works,"  and  that  we 
are  all  "justified  by  works,  and  not  by  faith  only."  {m)  What 
then  ?  Will  they  draw  Paul  into  a  controversy  with  James  ? 
If  they  consider  James  as  a  minister  of  Christ,  his  declarations 
must  be  understood  in  some  sense  not  at  variance  with  Christ 

{d)    Rom.  iv.  7,  8.    Psalm  xxxii.  1,  2.       {g)  Psalm  i.  1.  (h)  Psalm  cxix.  1. 

(e)    Psalm  cxii   1.  (70  James  i.  12.  (/)  Matt.  v.  3,  5,  7. 

(/)  Prov.  xiv.  21.  (i)  Psalm  cvi.  3.       (m)  James  ii.  21,  24. 


when  speaking  by  the  mouth  of  Paul.  The  Spirit  asserts,  by 
the  mouth  of  Paul,  that  Abraham  obtained  righteousness  by 
faith,  not  by  works ;  we  likewise  teach,  that  we  are  all  justified 
by  faith  without  the  works  of  the  law.  The  same  Spirit 
affirms  by  James,  that  both  Abraham's  righteousness  and  ours 
consists  in  works,  and  not  in  faith  only.  That  the  Spirit  is  not 
inconsistent  with  himself  is  a  certain  truth.  But  what  harmony 
can  there  be  between  these  two  apparently  opposite  assertions  ? 
Our  adversaries  would  be  satisfied,  if  they  could  totally  subvert 
the  righteousness  of  faith,  which  we  wish  to  be  firmly  es- 
tablished ;  but  to  afford  tranquillity  to  the  disturbed  conscience, 
they  feel  very  little  concern.  Hence  we  perceive,  that  they 
oppose  the  doctrine  of  justification  by  faith,  but  at  the  same 
time  fix  no  certain  rule  of  righteousness,  by  which  the  con- 
science may  be  satisfied.  Let  them  triumph  then  as  they  please, 
if  they  can  boast  no  other  victory  but  that  of  having  removed 
all  certainty  of  righteousness.  And  this  miserable  victory, 
indeed,  they  will  obtain,  where,  after  having  extinguished  the 
light  of  truth,  they  are  permitted  by  the  Lord  to  spread  the 
shades  of  error.  But,  wherever  the  truth  of  God  remains,  they 
will  not  prevail.  I  deny,  therefore,  that  the  assertion  of  James, 
which  they  hold  up  against  us  as  an  impenetrable  shield,  affords 
them  the  least  support.  To  evince  this,  we  shall  first  examine 
the  scope  of  the  apostle,  and  then  remark  wherein  they  are  de- 
ceived. Because  there  were  many  persons  at  that  time,  and  the 
Church  is  perpetually  infested  with  similar  characters,  who,  by 
neglecting  and  omitting  the  proper  duties  of  believers,  manifest- 
ly betrayed  their  real  infidelity,  while  they  continued  to  glory  in 
the  false  pretence  of  faith,  James  here  exposes  the  foolish  con- 
fidence of  such  persons.  It  is  not  his  design,  then,  to  diminish, 
in  any  respect,  the  virtue  of  true  faith,  but  to  show  the  folly  of 
these  triflers,  who  were  content  with  arrogating  to  themselves 
the  vain  image  of  it,  and  securely  abandoned  themselves  to 
every  vice.  This  statement  being  premised,  it  will  be  easy 
to  discover  where  lies  the  error  of  om*  adversaries.  For  they 
fall  into  two  fallacies  ;  one  respecting  the  word  "  faith,"  the 
other  respecting  the  word  "justification."  When  the  apostle 
gives  the  appellation  oi  faith  to  a  vain  notion,  widely  different 
from  true  faith,  it  is  a  concession  which  derogates  nothing  from 
the  argument ;  this  he  shows  from  the  beginning  in  these  words : 
"  What  doth  it  profit,  my  brethren,  though  a  man  say  he  hath 
faith,  and  have  not  Avorks?  "  {n)  He  does  not  say.  If  any  one 
have  faith  without  works  ;  but,  If  any  one  boast  of  having  it. 
He  speaks  still  more  plainly  just  after,  where  he  ridicules  it  by 
representing  it  as  worse  than  the  knowledge  of  devils;  and  lastly, 

(n)  James  ii.  14. 

46  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    tH 

when  he  calls  it  dead.  But  his  meaning  may  be  sufficiently 
understood  from  the  definition  he  gives  :  "  Thou  believest," 
says  he,  ''  that  there  is  one  God."  Indeed,  if  nothing  be  con- 
tained in  this  creed  but  a  belief  of  the  Divine  existence,  it  is 
not  at  all  surprising  that  it  is  inadequate  to  justification.  And 
we  must  not  suppose  this  denial  to  be  derogatory  to  Christian 
faith,  the  nature  of  which  is  widely  different.  For  how  does 
true  faith  justify,  but  by  uniting  us  to  Christ,  that,  being  made 
one  with  him,  we  may  participate  his  righteousness  ?  It  does 
not,  therefore,  justify  us,  by  attaining  a  knowledge  of  God's 
existence,  but  by  a  reliance  on  the  certainty  of  his  mercy. 

XII.  But  we  shall  not  have  ascertained  the  whole  scope  of 
the  apostle,  till  we  have  exposed  the  other  fallacy ;  for  he  at- 
tributes justification  partly  to  works.  If  we  wish  to  make 
James  consistent  with  the  rest  of  the  Scriptures,  and  even  with 
himself,  we  must  understand  the  word  "justify"  in  a  diff'erent 
signification  from  that  in  which  it  is  used  by  Paul.  For  we  are 
said  by  Paul  to  be  justified,  when  the  memory  of  our  unright- 
eousness is  obliterated,  and  we  are  accounted  righteous.  If 
James  had  alluded  to  this,  it  would  have  been  preposterous  for 
him  to  make  that  quotation  from  Moses :  "  Abraham  believed 
God,"  &c.  (o)  For  he  introduces  it  in  the  following  manner: 
Abraham  obtained  righteousness  by  works,  because  he  hesitated 
not  to  sacrifice  his  son  at  the  command  of  God.  And  thus  was 
the  Scripture  fulfilled,  which  saith,  Abraham  believed  God,  and 
it  was  imputed  unto  him  for  righteousness.  If  an  eff"ect  ante- 
cedent to  its  cause  be  an  absurdity,  either  Moses  falsely  asserts 
in  that  place,  that  Abraham's  faith  was  imputed  to  him  for 
righteousness,  or  Abraham  did  not  obtain  righteousness  by  his 
obedience,  displayed  in  the  oblation  of  his  son.  Abraham  was 
justified  by  faith,  while  Ishmael,  who  arrived  at  adolescence 
before  the  birth  of  Isaac,  was  not  yet  conceived.  How,  then, 
can  we  ascribe  his  justification  to  an  act  of  obedience  performed 
so  long  after  ?  Wherefore,  either  James  improperly  inverted 
the  order  of  events,  (which  it  is  unlawful  to  imagine,)  or,  by 
saying  that  Abraham  was  justified,  he  did  not  mean  that  the 
patriarch  deserved  to  be  accounted  righteous.  What,  then,  was 
his  meaning  ?  He  evidently  appears  to  speak  of  a  declaration 
of  righteousness  before  men,  and  not  of  an  imputation  of  it  in 
the  sight  of  God  ;  cis  though  he  had  said,  They  who  are  jus- 
tified by  true  faith,  prove  their  justification,  not  by  a  barren 
and  imaginary  resemblance  of  faith,  but  by  obedience  and  good 
works.  In  a  word,  he  is  not  disputing  concerning  the  method 
of  justification,  but  requiring  of  believers  a  righteousness 
manifested  in  good  works.     And  as  Paul  contends  for  justi- 

(o)  James  ii.  21—23.     Gen.  xv.  C. 


fication  independent  of  works,  so  James  will  not  allow  those  to 
be  accounted  righteous,  who  are  destitute  of  good  works.  The 
consideration  of  this  object  will  extricate  us  from  every  diffi- 
culty. For  the  principal  mistake  of  our  adversaries  consists  in 
supposing,  that  James  describes  the  method  of  justification, 
while  he  only  endeavours  to  destroy  the  corrupt  security  of 
those  who  make  vain  pretences  to  faith,  in  order  to  excuse  theii 
contempt  of  good  works.  Into  whatever  forms,  therefore,  they 
pervert  the  words  of  James,  they  will  extort  nothing  but  these 
two  truths  —  that  a  vain  notion  of  faith  cannot  justify  ;  and  that 
the  faithful,  not  content  with  such  an  imagination,  manifest 
their  righteousness  by  their  good  works. 

XIII.  Nor  can  they  derive  the  least  support  from  a  similar 
passage  which  they  cite  from  Paul,  that  "  Not  the  hearers  of  the 
law,  but  the  doers  of  the  law,  shall  be  justified."  {p)  I  have  no 
wish  to  evade  it  by  the  explanation  of  Ambrose,  that  this  is 
spoken,  because  faith  in  Christ  is  the  fulfilling  of  the  law.  For 
this  I  conceive  to  be  a  mere  subterfuge,  which  is  totally  un- 
necessary. The  apostle  in  that  place  is  demolishing  the  foolish 
confidence  of  the  Jews,  who  boasted  of  possessing  the  exclusive 
knowledge  of  the  law,  whilst  at  the  same  time  they  were  the 
greatest  despisers  of  it.  To  prevent  such  great  self-complacence 
on  account  of  a  mere  acquaintance  with  the  law,  he  admonishes 
them,  that  if  righteousness  be  sought  by  the  law,  it  is  re(|uisite 
not  only  to  know  but  to  observe  it.  We  certainly  do  not 
question  that  the  righteousness  of  the  law  consists  in  works, 
nor  that  this  righteousness  consists  in  the  worthiness  and 
merit  of  works.  But  still  it  cannot  be  proved  that  we  are 
justified  by  works,  unless  some  person  be  produced  who  has 
fulfilled  the  law.  That  Paul  had  no  other  meaning,  is 
sufficiently  evident  from  the  context.  After  having  con- 
demned the  Gentiles  and  Jews  indiscriminately  for  unright- 
eousness, he  proceeds  particularly  to  inform  us,  that  "  as  many 
as  have  sinned  without  law  shall  also  perish  without  law ;  " 
which  refers  to  the  Gentiles ;  and  that  "  as  many  as  have 
sinned  in  the  law  shall  be  judged  by  the  law ;  "  which  belongs 
to  the  Jews.  Moreover,  because  they  shut  their  eyes  against 
their  transgressions,  and  gloried  in  their  mere  possession  of  the 
law,  he  adds,  what  is  exceedingly  applicable,  that  the  law  was 
not  given  that  men  might  be  justified  merely  by  hearing  its 
voice,  but  by  obeying  it ;  as  though  he  had  said.  Do  you  seek 
righteousness  by  the  law  ?  Plead  not  your  having  heard  it,  which 
of  itself  is  a  very  small  advantage,  but  produce  works  as  an  evi- 
dence that  the  law  has  not  been  given  to  you  in  vain.  Since 
in  this  respect  they  were  all  deficient,  they  were  consequently 
deprived  of  their  glorying  in  the  law.     The  meaning  of  Paul, 

{f)  Rom.  ii.  13. 

48  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

therefore,  rather  furnishes  an  opposite  argument  :  Legal  right- 
eousness consists  in  perfect  works  ;  no  man  can  boast  of  having 
satisfied  the  law  by  his  works ;  therefore  there  is  no  right- 
eousness by  the  law. 

XIV,  Our  adversaries  proceed  to  adduce  those  passages  in 
which  the  faithful  boldly  offer  their  righteousness  to  the  ex- 
amination of  Divine  justice,  and  desire  to  be  judged  according 
to  it.  Such  are  the  following  :  "  Judge  me,  O  Lord,  according 
to  my  righteousness,  and  according  to  mine  integrity  that  is  in 
me."  (g')  Again:  "  Hear  the  right,  O  Lord.  Thou  hast  proved 
mine  heart ;  thou  hast  visited  me  in  the  night ;  thou  hast  tried 
me,  and  shalt  find  nothing."  (r)  Again  :  "  I  have  kept  the  ways 
of  the  Lord,  and  have  not  wickedly  departed  from  my  God.  I 
was  also  upright  before  him,  and  I  kept  myself  from  mine 
iniquity.  Therefore  hath  the  Lord  recompensed  me  according 
to  my  righteousness,  according  to  the  cleanness  of  my  hands."  (s) 
Again:  "Judge  me,  O  Lord,  for  I  have  walked  in  mine  integ- 
rity. I  have  not  sat  with  vain  persons ;  neither  will  I  go  in 
with  dissemblers.  Gather  not  my  soul  with  sinners,  nor  my 
life  with  bloody  men  ;  in  whose  hands  is  mischief,  and  their 
right  hand  is  full  of  bribes.  But  as  for  me,  I  will  walk  in  mine 
integrity."  (t)  I  have  already  spoken  of  the  confidence  which 
the  saints  appear  to  derive^  from  their  works.  The  passages 
now  adduced  will  form  no  objection  to  our  doctrine,  when  they 
are  explained  according  to  the  occasion  of  them.  Now,  this  is 
twofold.  For  believers  who  have  expressed  themselves  in 
this  manner,  have  no  wish  to  submit  to  a  general  examination, 
to  be  condemned  or  absolved  according  to  the  whole  tenor  of 
their  lives,  but  they  bring  forward  a  particular  cause  to  be 
judged  ;  and  they  attribute  righteousness  to  themselves,  not 
with  reference  to  the  Divine  perfection,  but  in  comparison 
with  men  of  impious  and  abandoned  characters.  In  the 
first  place,  in  order  to  a  man's  being  justified,  it  is  requisite 
that  he  should  have,  not  only  a  good  cause  in  some  particular 
instance,  but  a  perpetual  consistency  of  righteousness  through 
life.  But  the  saints,  when  they  implore  the  judgment  of  God 
in  approbation  of  their  innocence,  do  not  present  themselves  as 
free  from  every  charge,  and  absolutely  guiltless ;  but  having 
fixed  their  dependence  on  his  goodness  alone,  and  confiding 
in  his  readiness  to  avenge  the  poor  who  are  unlawfully  and 
unjustly  afflicted,  they  supplicate  his  regard  to  the  cause  in 
which  the  innocent  are  oppressed.  But  when  they  place  them- 
selves and  their  adversaries  before  the  Divine  tribunal,  they 
boast  not  an  innocence,  which,  on  a  severe  examination,  would 

(q)  Psalm  vii.  8.  (s)  Psalm  xviii.  21,  23,  24. 

(r)  Psalm  xvii.  1,  3.  (t)  Psalm  xxvi.  1,  4,  9—11. 


be  found  correspondent  to  the  purity  of  God ;  but  knowing 
that  their  sincerity,  justice,  simphcity,  and  purity,  are  pleasing 
and  acceptable  to  God,  in  comparison  with  the  malice,  Avicked- 
ness,  fraud,  and  iniquity  of  their  enemies,  they  are  not  afraid  to 
invoke  Him  to  judge  between  them.  Thus,  when  David  said 
to  Saul,  "  The  Lord  render  to  every  man  his  righteousness  and 
his  faithfulness  "  (v)  he  did  not  mean  that  the  Lord  should  ex- 
amine every  individual  by  himself,  and  reward  him  according 
to  his  merits  ;  but  he  called  the  Lord  to  witness  the  greatness 
of  his  innocence  in  comparison  with  the  iniquity  of  Saul  Nor 
did  Paul,  when  he  gloried  in  having  "  the  testimony  ot "  his 
"  conscience  "  that  he  had  conducted  himself  in  the  Church 
"  with  simplicity  and  godly  sincerity,'"  (-lo)  intend  to  rely  on  this 
before  God ;  but  the  calumnies  of  the  impious  constrained  him 
to  oppose  all  their  slanderous  aspersions  by  asserting  his  fidelity 
and  probity,  which  he  knew  to  be  acceptable  to  the  Divine  good- 
ness. For  we  know  what  he  says  in  another  place  :  "  I  am  con- 
scious to  myself  of  nothing  ;  yet  am  I  not  hereby  justified."  (x) 
Because,  indeed,  he  was  certain,  that  the  judgment  of  God  far 
transcended  the  narrow  comprehension  of  man.  However, 
therefore,  the  pious  may  vindicate  their  innocence  agamst  the 
hypocrisy  of  the  impious,  by  invoking  God  to  be  their  witness 
and  judge,  yet  in  their  concerns  with  God  alone,  they  all  with 
one  voice  exclaim,  "  If  thou.  Lord,  shouldst  mark  iniquities,  O 
Lord,  who  shall  stand  ?"  (y)  Again:  "Enter  not  into  judg- 
ment with  thy  servant,  for  in  thy  sight  shall  no  man  living  be 
justified."  (z)  And,  diffident  of  their  own  works,  they  gladly 
sing,  "  Thy  loving-kindness  is  better  than  life."  (a) 

XV.  There  are  likewise  other  passages,  similar  to  the  prece- 
ding, on  which  some  person  may  yet  insist.  Solomon  says, 
"  The  just  man  walketh  in  his  integrity."  (b)  Again  :  "  In  the 
way  of  righteousness  there  is  life  ;  and  in  the  pathway  thereof 
there  is  no  death."  (c)  T^us  also  Ezekiel  declares,  that  he  who 
"doth  that  which  is  lawful  and  right,  shall  surely  live."  (c^) 
We  neither  deny  nor  obscure  any  of  these.  But  let  one  of  the 
sons  of  Adam  produce  such  an  integrity.  If  no  one  can,  they 
must  either  perish  from  the  presence  of  God,  or  flee  to  the 
asylum  of  mercy.  Nor  do  we  deny,  that  to  believers  their 
integrity,  however  imperfect,  is  a  step  toward  immortality. 
But  what  is  the  cause  of  this,  unless  it  be  that  when  the  Lord 
has  admitted  any  persons  into  the  covenant  of  his  grace,  he 
does  not  scrutinize  their  works  according  to  their  intrinsic 
merit,  but  embraces  them  with  paternal  benignity  ?     By  this 

(r)    1  Sam.  xxvi.  23.  (y)  Psalm  cxxx.  3.  (b)  Prov.  xx.  7. 

(w)  2  Cor.  i.  12.  (:)  Psalm  cxiiii.  2.  (c)   Prov.  xii.  28. 

(x)    1  Cor.  iv.  4.  (a)  Psalm  Ixiii.  3.  (d)  Ez.  xxxiii.  14,  15. 

VOL.     II.  7 

50  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

we  mean,  not  merely  what  is  taught  by  the  schoohnen,  ''  that 
works  receive  their  vahie  from  the  grace  which  accepts  them  ;  " 
for  they  suppose,  that  works,  otherwise  inadequate  to  the  at- 
tainment of  salvation  by  the  legal  covenant,  are  rendered  suf- 
ficient for  this  by  the  Divine  acceptance  of  them.  But  I  assert, 
that  they  are  so  defiled,  both  by  other  transgressions  and  by 
their  own  blemishes,  that  they  are  of  no  value  at  all,  except  as 
the  Lord  pardons  both ;  and  this  is  no  other  than  bestowing 
on  a  man  gratuitous  righteousness.  It  is  irrelevant  to  this 
subject,  to  allege  those  prayers  of  the  apostle,  in  which  he 
desires  such  perfection  for  believers,  that  they  may  be  un- 
blamable and  irreprovable  in  the  day  of  Christ,  (e)  These 
passages,  indeed,  the  Celestines  formerly  perverted,  in  order  to 
prove  a  perfection  of  righteousness  in  the  present  life.  We 
think  it  sufficient  briefly  to  reply,  with  Augustine,  "  that  all 
the  pious  ought,  indeed,  to  aspire  to  this  object,  to  appear  one 
day  immaculate  and  guiltless  before  the  presence  of  God ;  but 
since  the  highest  excellency  in  this  life  is  nothmg  more  than 
a  progress  towards  perfection,  we  shall  never  attain  it,  till, 
being  divested  at  once  of  mortality  and  sin,  we  shall  fully 
adhere  to  the  Lord."  Nevertheless,  I  shall  not  pertinaciously 
contend  with  any  person  who  chooses  to  attribute  to  the  saints 
the  character  of  perfection,  provided  he  also  defines  it  in  the 
words  of  Augustine  himself;  who  says,  "When  we  denomi- 
nate the  virtue  of  the  saints  perfect,  to  this  perfection  itself 
belongs  the  acknowledgment  of  imperfection,  both  in  truth 
and  in  humility." 


JUSTIFICATION     BY     WORKS      NOT     TO     BE      INFERRED      FROM      THE 

Let  us  now  proceed  to  those  passages  which  affirm  that 
"God  will  render  to  every  man  according  to  his  deeds  ;  "  (/) 
that  "every  one  may  receive  the  things  done  in  his  body,  ac- 
cording to  that  he  hath  done,  whether  it  be  good  or  bad."  (g) 
"  Tribulation  and  anguish  upon  every  soul  that  doeth  evil ; 
but  glory,  honour,  and  peace,  to  every  man  that  worketh 
good."(/i)  And,  "All  shall  come  forth;  they  that  have  done 
good,  unto  the  resurrection  of  life  ;  and  they  that  have  done 
evil,  unto  the    resurrection   of  damnation."  (i)      "  Come,  ye 

(e)  1  Thess.  iii.  13,  et  alibi.  (/)  Rom.  ii.  6.     Matt.  xvi.  27. 

(g)  2  C!or.  V.  10.  (h)  Rom.  ii.9, 10.  (t)  John  v.  29. 


blessed  of  my  Father ;  for  I  was  a  hungered,  and  ye  gave  me 
meat:  I  was  thirsty,  and  ye  gave  me  drink,"  &:c.  (A:)  And 
with  these  let  us  also  connect  those  which  represent  eternal 
ife  as  the  reward  of  works,  such  as  the  following  :  "  The  re- 
compense of  a  man's  hands  shall  be  rendered  unto  him."  [l) 
'' He  that  feareth  the  commandment  shall  be  rewarded."  (w.) 
"  Rejoice  and  be  exceeding  glad  ;  for  great  is  your  reward  in 
heaven."  (w)  "Every  one  shall  receive  his  own  reward,  ac- 
cording to  his  own  labour."  (o)  The  declaration,  that  God 
will  render  to  every  one  according  to  his  works,  is  easily  ex- 
plained. For  that  phrase  indicates  the  order  of  events,  rather 
than  the  cause  of  them.  But  it  is  beyond  all  doubt,  that  the 
Lord  proceeds  to  the  consummation  of  our  salvation  by  these 
several  gradations  of  mercy  :  "  Whom  he  hath  predestinated, 
them  he  calls ;  whom  he  hath  called,  he  justifies ;  and  whom 
he  hath  justified,  he  finally  glorifies."  {p)  Though  he  receives 
his  children  into  eternal  life,  therefore,  of  his  mere  mercy,  yet 
since  he  conducts  them  to  the  possession  of  it  through  a  course 
of  good  works,  that  he  may  fulfil  his  work  in  them  in  the  order 
he  has  appointed,  we  need  not  wonder  if  they  are  said  to  be 
rewarded  according  to  their  works,  by  which  they  are  un- 
doubtedly prepared  to  receive  the  crown  of  immortality.  And 
for  this  reason,  they  are  properly  said  to  "  work  out  their  own 
salvation,"  {q)  while,  devoting  themselves  to  good  works,  they 
aspire  to  eternal  life ;  just  as  in  another  place  they  are  com- 
manded to  "labor  for  the  meat  which  perisheth  not,"  when 
they  obtain  eternal  life  by  believing  in  Christ  ;  and  yet  it  is 
immediately  added,  "  which  the  Son  of  man  shall  give  unto 
you."  (r)  Whence  it  appears  that  the  word  loork  is  not  op- 
posed to  grace,  but  refers  to  human  endeavours  ;  and  there- 
fore it  does  not  follow,  either  that  believers  are  the  authors  of 
their  own  salvation,  or  that  salvation  proceeds  from  their  works. 
But  as  soon  as  they  are  introduced,  by  the  knowledge  of  the 
gospel  and  the  illumination  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  into  commu- 
nion with  Christ,  eternal  life  is  begun  in  them.  Now,  "  the 
good  work  which  "  God  "  hath  begun  in  "  them,  "  he  will  per- 
form until  the  day  of  Jesus  Christ."  (s)  And  it  is  performed, 
when  they  prove  themselves  to  be  the  genuine  children  of  God 
by  their  resemblance  to  their  heavenly  Father  in  righteousness 
and  holiness. 

n.  We  have  no  reason  to  infer  from  the  term  reward^  that 
good  works  are  the  cause  of  salvation.  First,  let  this  truth  be 
established  in  our  minds,   that  the  kingdom  of  heaven  is  not 

(k)  Matt.  XXV.  34—36.  (n)  Matt.  v.  12.     Luke  vi.  23.  (//)  Pliil.  ii.  12. 

(I)    Pro7.  xii.  14.  (o)  1  Cor.  iii.  8.  (r)  John  vi.  27. 

(ro)  Prov.  xiii.  13.  {p)  Rom.  viii.  30.  {s)  Phil.  i.  6. 

52  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  ^BOOK    IH- 

the  stipend  of  servants,  but  the  inheritance  of  children,  which 
will  be  enjoyed  only  by  those  whom  the  Lord  adopts  as  his 
children,  and  for  no  other  cause  than  on  account  of  this  adop- 
tion. "  For  the  son  of  the  bond- woman  shall  not  be  heir  with 
the  son  of  the  free-woman."  (t)  And,  therefore,  in  the  same 
passages  in  which  the  Holy  Spirit  promises  eternal  life  as  the  re- 
ward of  works,  by  expressly  denominating  it  "  an  inheritance," 
he  proves  it  to  proceed  from  another  cause.  Thus  Christ  enu- 
merates the  works  which  he  compensates  by  the  reward  of 
heaven,  when  he  calls  the  elect  to  the  possession  of  it  ;  bnt  at 
the  same  time  adds,  that  it  is  to  be  enjoyed  by  right  of  inherit- 
ance, (v)  So  Paul  encourages  servants,  who  faithfully  discharge 
their  duty,  to  hope  for  a  reward  from  the  Lord  ;  but  at  the  same 
time  calls  it  "  the  reward  of  the  inheritance."  (lo)  We  see  how 
they,  almost  in  express  terms,  caution  us  against  attributing 
eternal  life  to  works,  instead  of  ascribing  it  to  Divine  adoption. 
Why,  then,  it  may  be  asked,  do  they  at  the  same  time  make 
mention  of  works  ?  This  question  shall  be  elucidated  by  one 
example  from  the  Scripture.  Before  the  nativity  of  Isaac, 
there  had  been  promised  to  Abraham  a  seed  in  whom  all  the 
nations  of  the  earth  were  to  be  blessed,  a  multiplication  of  his 
posterity,  which  would  equal  the  stars  of  heaven  and  the  sands 
of  the  sea,  and  other  similar  blessings,  (x)  Many  years  after, 
in  consequence  of  a  Divine  command,  Abraham  prepares  to 
sacrifice  his  son.  After  this  act  of  obedience,  he  receives  this 
promise  :  "  By  myself  have  I  sworn,  saitli  the  Lord,  for  because 
thou  hast  done  this  thing,  and  hast  not  withheld  thy  son,  thine 
only  son ;  that  in  blessmg  I  will  bless  thee,  and  in  multiplying 
I  will  multiply  thy  seed  as  the  stars  of  the  heaven,  and  as  the 
sand  which  is  upon  the  sea-shore ;  and  thy  seed  shall  possess 
the  gate  of  his  enemies ;  and  in  thy  seed  shall  all  the  na- 
tions of  the  earth  be  blessed ;  because  thou  hast  obeyed  my 
voice."  (y)  What?  did  Abraham  by  his  obedience  merit  that 
blessing  which  had  been  promised  him  before  the  command 
was  delivered  ?  Here,  then,  it  appears,  beyond  all  doubt,  that 
the  Lord  rewards  the  works  of  believers  with  those  blessings 
which  he  had  already  given  them  before  their  works  were 
thought  of,  and  while  he  had  no  reason  for  his  beneficence, 
but  his  own  mercy. 

HI.  Nor  does  the  Lord  deceive  or  trifle  with  us,  when  he 
says  that  he  will  requite  works  with  what  he  had  freely  giv- 
en previously  to  the  performance  of  them.  For  since  it  is 
his  pleasure  that  we  be  employed  in  good  works,  while  as- 
piring after   the  manifestation  or  enjoyment  of  those  things 

(t)  Gal.  iv.  30.  (»)  Matt.  xxv.  34.  (70)  Col.  iii.  24. 

<z)  Gen.  xii.  2,  3;  xiii.  16;  xv.  5.  (y)  Gen.  xxii.  16—18. 


which  he  has  promised,  and  that  they  constitute  the  road  in 
which  we  should  travel  to  endeavour  to  attain  the  blessed  hope 
proposed  to  us  in  heaven,  therefore  the  fruit  of  the  promises,  to 
the  perfection  of  which  fruit  those  works  conduct  us,  is  justly 
assigned  to  them.  The  apostle  beautifully  expressed  both  those 
ideas,  when  he  said  that  the  Colossians  applied  themselves  to 
the  duties  of  charity,  "■  for  the  hope  which  was  laid  up  for 
them  in  heaven,  whereof  they  heard  before  in  the  word,  of  the 
truth  of  the  gospel."  (z)  For  his  assertion,  that  they  knew 
from  the  gospel,  that  there  was  hope  laid  up  for  them  in  hea- 
ven, is  equivalent  to  a  declaration  that  it  depended  not  on  any 
works,  but  on  Christ  alone  ;  which  perfectly  accords  with  the 
observation  of  Peter,  that  believers  "  are  kept  by  the  power  of 
God  through  faith  unto  salvation,  ready  to  be  revealed  in  the 
last  time."  (a)  When  it  is  said  that  they  must  labour  for  it,  it 
implies,  that  in  order  to  attain  to  it,  believers  have  a  race  to  run, 
which  terminates  only  with  their  lives.  Bat  that  we  might 
not  suppose  the  reward  promised  us  by  the  Lord  to  be  regula- 
ted according  to  the  proportion  of  merit,  he  proposes  a  parable, 
in  which  he  has  represented  himself  under  the  character  of  a 
householder,  who  employs  all  the  persons  he  meets  in  the  cul- 
tivation of  his  vineyard ;  some  he  hires  at  the  first  hour 
of  the  day,  others  at  the  second,  others  at  the  third,  and  some 
even  at  the  eleventh  hour  ;  in  the  evening  he  pays  them  all 
the  same  wages,  (b)  A  brief  and  just  explanation  of  this 
parable  is  given  by  the  ancient  writer,  whoever  he  was,  of  the 
treatise  "  On  the  Calling  of  the  Gentiles,"  which  bears  the 
name  of  Ambrose.  I  shall  adopt  his  words  in  preference  to 
my  own.  "By  the  example  of  this  comparison,  (says  he,)  the 
Lord  has  shown  a  variety  of  manifold  vocation  pertaining  to 
the  same  grace.  They  who,  having  been  admitted  into  the 
vineyard  at  the  eleventh  hour,  are  placed  on  an  equality  with 
them  who  had  laboured  the  whole  day,  represent  the  state  of 
those  whom,  to  magnify  the  excellence  of  grace,  God,  in  his 
mercy,  has  rewarded  in  the  decline  of  the  day,  and  at  the  con- 
clusion of  life  ;  not  paying  them  the  wages  due  to  their  labour, 
but  sending  down  the  riches  of  his  goodness,  in  copious  effu- 
sions, on  them  whom  he  has  chosen  without  works ;  that  even 
they  who  have  laboured  the  most,  and  have  received  no  more 
than  the  last,  may  understand  theirs  to  be  a  reward  of  grace, 
not  of  works."  Lastly,  it  is  also  worthy  of  being  observed, 
that  in  those  places  where  eternal  life  is  called  a  reward  of 
works,  it  is  not  to  be  understood  simply  of  that  communion 
which  we  have  with  God,  as  the  prelude  to  a  happy  immor- 
tality, when  he  embraces  us  in  Christ  with  paternal  benevo-  i 

(z)  Col.  i.  4,  5.  (a)  1  Peter  i.  5.  (6)  Matt.  xx.  1,  &c. 

54  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

lence  ;  but  of  the  possession  or  fruition  of  ultimate  blessedness, 
as  the  very  words  of  Christ  import  —  "  in  the  world  to  come, 
eternal  life."  (c)  And  in  another  place,  "Come,  inherit  the 
kingdom,"  &c.  (d)  For  the  same  reason,  Paul  applies  the 
term  adoption  to  the  revelation  of  adoption,  which  shall  be 
made  in  the  resurrection  :  and  afterwards  explains  it  to  be 
"the  redemption  of  our  body."  (e)  Otherwise,  as  alienation 
from  God  is  eternal  death,  so  when  a  man  is  received  into  the 
favour  of  God  so  as  to  enjoy  communion  with  him  and  become 
united  to  him,  he  is  translated  from  death  to  life ;  which  is 
solely  the  fruit  of  adoption.  And  if  they  insist,  with  their  ac- 
customed pertinacity,  on  the  reward  of  works,  we  may  retort 
against  them  that  passage  of  Peter,  where  eternal  life  is  called 
"  the  end  (or  reward)  of  faith."  (/)  ^ 

lY.  Let  us  not,  therefore,  imagine,  that  the  Holy  Spirit  by 
these  promises  commends  the  worthiness  of  our  works,  as 
though  they  merited  such  a  reward.  For  the  Scripture  leaves 
us  nothing  that  can  exalt  us  in  the  Divine  presence.  Its  whole 
tendency  is  rather  to  repress  our  arrogance,  and  to  inspire  us 
with  humility,  dejection,  and  contrition.  But  such  promises 
assist  our  weakness,  which  otherwise  would  immediately  slide 
and  fall,  if  it  did  not  sustain  itself  by  this  expectation,  and  al- 
leviate its  sorrows  by  this  consolation.  First,  let  every  one  re- 
flect, how  difficult  it  is  for  a  man  to  relinquish  and  renounce, 
not  only  all  that  belongs  to  him,  but  even  himself.  And  yet 
this  is  the  first  lesson  which  Christ  teaches  his  disciples,  that 
is  to  say,  all  the  pious.  Afterwards  he  gives  them  such  tuition 
during  the  remainder  of  their  lives,  under  the  discipline  of  the 
cross,  that  their  hearts  may  not  fix  either  their  desires  or  their 
dependence  on  present  advantages.  In  short,  he  generally  ma- 
nages them  in  such  a  manner,  that  whithersoever  they  turn 
their  views  throughout  the  world,  nothing  but  despair  presents 
itself  to  them  on  every  side  ;  so  that  Paul  says,  "  If  in  this  life 
only  we  have  hope  in  Christ,  we  are  of  all  men  most  misc'*. 
rable."  {g)  To  preserve  them  from  sinking  under  these  afflic- 
tions, they  have  the  presence  of  the  Lord,  who  encourages 
them  to  raise  their  heads  higher,  and  to  extend  their  views 
further,  by  assurances  that  they  will  find  in  him  that  blessed- 
ness which  they  cannot  see  in  the  world.  This  blessedness 
he  calls  a  reward^  a  recompense ;  not  attributing  any  merit 
to  their  works,  but  signifying  that  it  is  a  compensation  for 
their  oppressions,  sufferings,  and  disgrace.  Wherefore  there 
is  no  objection  against  our  following  the  example  of  the  Scrip- 
ture in  calling  eternal  life  a  reward ;  since  in  that  state  the 

(c)  Mark  x.  30.  {d)  Matt.  xxv.  34.  (c)  Rom.  viii.  23. 

(/)  1  Peter  i.  9.  (^g)  1  Cor.  xv.  19. 



Lord  receives  his  people  from  labor  into  rest ;  from  affliction  into 
prosperity  and  happiness;  from  sorrow  into  joy;  from  poverty 
into  affluence  ;  from  ignominy  into  glory  ;  and  commutes  all  the 
evils  which  they  have  endured  for  blessings  of  superior  magni- 
tude. So,  likewise,  it  will  occasion  no  inconvenience,  if  we  con- 
sider holiness  of  life  as  the  way,  not  which  procures  our  admis- 
sion into  the  glory  of  the  heavenly  kingdom,  but  through  which 
the  elect  are  conducted  by  their  God  to  the  manifestation  of  it ; 
since  it  is  his  good  pleasure  to  glorify  them  whom  he  has 
sanctified.  Only  let  us  not  imagine  a  reciprocal  relation  of 
merit  and  reward,  which  is  the  error  into  which  the  sophists 
fell,  for  want  of  considering  the  end  which  we  have  stated. 
But  how  preposterous  is  it,  when  the  Lord  calls  our  attention 
to  one  end,  for  us  to  direct  our  views  to  another !  Nothing  is 
clearer,  than  that  the  promise  of  a  reward  to  good  works  is  de- 
signed to  afibrd  some  consolation  to  the  weakness  of  our  flesh, 
but  not  to  inflate  our  minds  with  vain-glory.  Whoever,  there- 
fore, infers  from  this,  that  there  is  any  merit  in  works,  or  ba- 
lances the  work  against  the  reward,  errs  very  widely  from  the 
true  design  of  God. 

V.  Therefore,  when  the  Scripture  says,  that  "  the  Lord,  the 
righteous  Judge,  shall  give  "  to  his  people  "  a  crown  of  right- 
eousness," (A)  I  not  only  reply  with  Augustine  —  "To  whom 
could  the  righteous  Judge  have  given  a  crown,  if  the  Father 
of  mercies  had  never  given  grace  ?  and  how  would  it  have 
been  an  act  of  righteousness,  if  not  preceded  by  that  grace 
which  justifies  the  ungodly  ?  how  could  these  due  rewards  be 
rendered,  unless  those  unmerited  blessings  were  previously 
bestowed?"  but  I  further  inquire — How  could  Jhe  impute 
righteousness  to  our  works,  unless  his  indulgent  mercy  had 
concealed  their  unrighteousness  ?  How  could  he  esteem  them 
worthy  of  a  reward,  unless  his  infinite  goodness  had  abolished 
all  their  demerit  of  punishment?  Augustine  is  in  the  habit 
of  designating  eternal  life  by  the  word  grace,  because,  when  it 
is  given  as  the  reward  of  works,  it  is  conferred  on  the  gratui- 
tous gifts  of  God.  But  the  Scripture  humbles  us  more,  and  at 
the  same  time  exalts  us.  For  beside  prohibiting  us  to  glory  in 
works,  because  they  are  the  gratuitous  gifts  of  God,  it  likewise 
teaches  us  that  they  are  always  defiled  by  some  pollutions  ;  sc 
that  they  cannot  satisfy  God,  if  examined  according  to  the  rule 
of  his  judgment ;  but  it  is  also  added,  to  prevent  our  despon- 
dency, that  they  please  him  merely  through  his  mercy.  Now, 
though  Augustine  expresses  himself  somewhat  diflerently  from 
us,  yet  that  there  is  no  real  diflference  of  sentiment  will  appear 
from  his  language  to  Boniface.     After  a  comparison  between 

(h)  "  Tim.  iv.  8. 

56  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [ 


two  men,  the  one  of  a  life  holy  and  perfect  even  to  a  miracle, 
the  other  a  man  of  probity  and  integrity,  yet  not  so  perfect  but 
that  many  defects  might  be  discovered,  he  at  length  makes 
this  inference :  "  The  latter,  whose  character  appears  inferior 
to  the  former,  on  account  of  the  true  faith  in  God  by  which  he 
lives,  and  according  to  which  he  accuses  himself  in  all  his  de- 
linquencies, and  in  all  his  good  works  praises  God,  ascribing 
the  glory  to  him,  the  ignominy  to  himself,  and  deriving  from 
him  both  the  pardon  of  his  sins  and  the  love  of  virtue  ;  this 
man,  I  say,  when  delivered  from  this  life,  removes  into  the 
presence  of  Christ.  Wherefore,  but  on  account  of  faith  ?  which, 
though  no  man  be  saved  by  it  without  works,  (for  it  is  not  a 
reprobate  faith,  but  such  as  works  by  love,)  yet  produces  re- 
mission of  sins,  for  the  just  lives  by  faith  ;  (?)  but  without  it, 
works  apparently  good  are  perverted  into  sins."  Here  he 
avows,  without  any  obscurity,  that  for  which  we  so  strenuously 
contend  —  that  the  righteousness  of  good  works  depends  on 
their  acceptance  by  the  Divine  mercy. 

VI.  Very  similar  to  the  foregoing  passages  is  the  import 
of  the  following  :  "  Make  to  yourselves  friends  of  the  mammon 
of  unrighteousness ;  that,  when  ye  fail,  they  may  receive  you 
into  everlasting  habitations."  (k)  "  Charge  them  that  are  rich 
in  this  world,  that  they  be  not  high-minded,  nor  trust  in  uncer- 
tain riches,  but  in  the  living  God ;  that  they  do  good,  that 
they  be  rich  in  good  works ;  laying  up  in  store  for  themselves 
a  good  foundation  against  the  time  to  come,  that  they  may  lay 
hold  on  eternal  life."  (Z)  Here  good  works  are  compared  to 
riches,  which  we  may  enjoy  in  the  happiness  of  eternal  life. 
I  reply,  that  we  shall  never  arrive  at  the  true  meaning  of  these 
passages,  unless  we  advert  to  the  design  of  the  Spirit  in  such 
language.  If  Christ's  declaration  be  true,  that  "  where  our 
treasure  is,  there  will  our  heart  be  also,"  (m)  —  as  the  children 
of  this  world  are  generally  intent  on  the  acquisition  of  those 
things  which  conduce  to  the  comfort  of  the  present  life,  so  it 
ought  to  be  the  concern  of  believers,  after  they  have  been 
taught  that  this  life  will  ere  long  vanish  like  a  dream,  to  trans- 
mit those  things  which  they  really  wish  to  enjoy,  to  that  place 
where  they  shall  possess  a  perfect  and  permanent  life.  It 
behoves  us,  therefore,  to  imitate  the  conduct  of  those  who 
determine  to  migrate  to  any  new  situation,  where  they  have 
chosen  to  reside  during  the  remainder  of  their  lives  ;  they  send 
their  property  before  them,  without  regarding  the  inconveni- 
ence of  a  temporary  absence  from  it ;  esteeming  their  happiness 
the  greater  in  proportion  to  the  wealth  which  they  possess  in 
the  place  which  they  intend  for  their  permanent  residence.     If 

(i)  Heb.  X.  3a  (k)  Luke  xvi.  9.         (I)  1  Tim.  vi.  17—19.        (m)  Matt.  vi.  21. 


we  believe  heaven  to  be  our  country,  it  is  better  for  us  to 
transmit  our  wealth  thither,  than  to  retain  it  here,  where  we 
may  lose  it  by  a  sudden  removal.  But  how  shall  we  transmit 
it  ?  Why,  if  we  communicate  to  the  necessities  of  the  poor  ; 
whatever  is  bestowed  on  them,  the  Lord  considers  as  given  to 
himself  (h)  Whence  that  celebrated  promise,  "He  that  hath 
pity  upon  the  poor,  lendeth  unto  the  Lord."  (o)  Again  :  "  He 
which  soweth  bountifully  shall  reap  also  bountifully."  (p)  For 
all  things  that  are  bestowed  on  our  brethren  in  a  way  of 
charity,  are  so  many  deposits  in  the  hand  of  the  Lord  ;  which 
he,  as  a  faithful  depositary,  will  one  day  restore  with  ample 
interest.  Are  our  acts  of  duty,  then,  it  will  be  asked,  so  valu- 
able in  the  sight  of  God,  that  they  are  like  riches  reserved 
in  his  hand  for  us  ?  And  who  can  be  afraid  to  assert  this, 
when  the  Scripture  so  frequently  and  plainly  declares  it  ?  But 
if  any  one,  from  the  mere  goodness  of  God,  would  infer  the 
merit  of  works,  these  testimonies  will  afford  no  countenance  to 
such  an  error.  For  we  can  infer  nothing  from  them  except 
the  indulgence  which  God  in  his  mercy  is  disposed  to  show 
us,  since,  in  order  to  animate  us  to  rectitude  of  conduct,  though 
the  duties  we  perform  are  unworthy  of  the  least  notice  from 
him,  yet  he  suffers  not  one  of  them  to  go  unrewarded. 

VII.  But  they  insist  more  on  the  words  of  the  apostle,  who, 
to  console  the  Thessalonians  under  their  tribulations,  tells  them 
that  the  design  of  their  infliction  is,  "  that  they  may  be  count- 
ed worthy  of  the  kingdom  of  God,  for  which  they  also  suffer. 
Seeing,"  says  he,  "  it  is  a  righteous  thing  with  God  to  recom- 
pense tribulation  to  them  that  trouble  you  ;  and  to  you  who  are 
troubled,  rest  with  us,  when  the  Lord  Jesus  shall  be  revealed 
from  heaven."  (q)  And  the  author  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Hebrews  says,  "  God  is  not  unrighteous  to  forget  your  work  and 
,  labour  of  love,  which  ye  have  showed  toward  his  name,  in  that 
ye  have  ministered  to  the  saints."  (r)  To  the  first  passage  I 
reply.  That  it  indicates  no  worthiness  of  merit ;  but  since  it 
is  the  will  of  God  the  Father,  that  those  whom  he  has  chosen 
as  his  children  be  conformed  to  Christ  his  first  begotten  Son  ;  (s) 
as  it  was  necessary  for  him  first  to  sufler  and  then  to  enter 
into  the  glory  destined  for  him  ;  (^)  so  "  we  must  through 
mucn  tribulation  enter  into  the  kingdom  of  God."  (a)  The 
tribulations,  therefore,  which  we  suffer  for  the  name  of  Christ, 
are,  as  it  were,  certain  marks  impressed  on  us  by  which  God 
usually  distinguishes  the  sheep  of  his  flock.  For  this  reason, 
then,  we  are  accounted  worthy  of  the  kingdom  of  God,  because 

(n)  Matt.  XXV.  40.     (p)  2  Cor.  ix.  6.  (r)  Heb.  vi.  10.  (t)  Luke  xxiv.  26 

(o)   Prov.  xix.  17.       (?)  2  Thess.  i.  5—7.     (s)  Rom.  viii.  29.     (w)  Acts  xiv.  22. 

58  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

we  bear  in  our  body  the  maj'ks  of  our  Lord  and  Master,  (w) 
which  are  the  badges  of  the  children  of  God.  The  same 
sentiment  is  conveyed  in  the  following  passages:  "Bearing 
about  in  the  body  the  dying  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  that  the  life  also 
of  Jesus  might  be  made  manifest  in  our  body."  (x)  "  Being  made 
conformable  unto  his  death,  if  by  any  means  I  might  attain 
unto  the  resurrection  of  the  dead."  [y)  The  reason  which  the 
apostVe  subjoins  tends  not  to  establish  any  merit,  but  to  confirm 
the  hope  of  the  kingdom  of  God ;  as  though  he  had  said.  As  it  is 
consistent  with  the  judgment  of  God  to  avenge  on  your  enemies 
those  vexations  with  which  they  have  harassed  you,  so  it  is 
also  to  grant  you  respite  and  repose  from  those  vexations.  Of 
the  other  passage,  which  represents  it  as  becoming  the  right- 
eousness of  God  not  to  forget  our  services,  so  as  almost  to  im- 
ply that  he  would  be  unrighteous  if  he  did  forget  them,  the 
meaning  is,  that  in  order  to  arouse  our  indolence,  God  has  as- 
sured us  that  the  labour  which  we  undergo  for  the  glory  of  his 
name  shall  not  be  in  vain.  And  we  should  always  remember 
that  this  promise,  as  well  as  all  others,  would  be  fraught  with  no 
benefit  to  us,  unless  it  were  preceded  by  the  gratuitous  cove- 
nant of  mercy,  on  which  the  whole  certainty  of  our  salvation 
must  depend.  But  relying  on  that  covenant,  we  may  securely 
confide,  that  our  services,  however  unworthy,  will  not  go  with- 
out a  reward  from  the  goodness  of  God.  To  confirm  us  in  that 
expectation,  the  apostle  asserts  that  God  is  not  unrighteous, 
but  will  perform  the  promise  he  has  once  made.  This  right- 
eousness, therefore,  refers  rather  to  the  truth  of  the  Divine 
promise,  than  to  the  equity  of  rendering  to  us  any  thing  that  is 
our  due.  To  this  purpose  there  is  a  remarkable  observation  of 
Augustine  ;  and  as  that  holy  man  has  not  hesitated  frequently 
to  repeat  it  as  deserving  of  remembrance,  so  I  deem  it  not  un- 
worthy of  a  constant  place  in  our  minds.  "  The  Lord,"  says 
he,  "  is  faithful,  who  has  made  himself  our  debtor,  not  by 
receiving  any  thing  from  us,  but  by  promising  all  things  to  us." 
VIIL  Our  Pharisees  adduce  the  following  passages  of  Paul : 
"  Though  I  have  all  faith,  so  that  I  could  remove  mountains, 
and  have  not  charity,  I  am  nothing."  Again  :  "  Now  abideth 
faith,  hope,  charity,  these  three  ;  but  the  greatest  of  these  is 
charity."  (z)  Again  :  "  Above  all  these  things,  put  on  charity, 
which  IS  the  bond  of  perfectness."  (a)  From  the  first  two  pas- 
sages they  contend  that  we  are  justified  rather  by  charity  than 
by  faith  ;  that  is,  by  the  superior  virtue,  as  they  express  it. 
But  this  argument  is  easily  overturned.  For  we  have  already 
shown,  that  what  is  mentioned  in  the  first  passage,  has  no 

(w)  Gal.  vi.  17.  (x)  2  Cor.  iv.  10.  (y)  Phil.  iii.  10,  11. 

(z)  1  Cor.  xiii.  2,  13.  (a)  Col.  iii.  14. 


reference  to  true  faith.  The  second  we  explain  to  signify  true 
faith,  than  which  he  calls  charity  greater,  not  as  being  more 
meritorious,  but  because  it  is  more  fruitful,  more  extensive, 
more  generally  serviceable,  and  perpetual  in  its  duration  ; 
whereas  the  use  of  faith  is  only  temporary.  In  respect  of  ex- 
cellence, the  preeminence  must  be  given  to  the  love  of  God, 
which  is  not  in  this  place  the  subject  of  Paul's  discourse.  For 
the  only  point  which  he  urges  is,  that  with  reciprocal  charity 
we  mutually  edify  one  another  in  the  Lord.  But  let  us  suppose 
that  charity  excels  faith  in  all  respects,  yet  what  person  pos- 
sessed of  sound  judgment,  or  even  of  the  common  exercise  of 
reason,  would  argue  from  this  that  it  has  a  greater  concern  in 
justification  ?  The  power  of  justifying,  attached  to  faith,  con- 
sists not  in  the  worthiness  of  the  act.  Our  justification  depends 
solely  on  the  mercy  of  God  and  the  merit  of  Christ,  which 
when  faith  apprehends,  it  is  said  to  justify  us.  Now,  if  we  ask 
our  adversaries  in  what  sense  they  attribute  justification  to 
charity,  they  will  reply,  that  because  it  is  a  duty  pleasing  to 
God,  the  merit  of  it,  being  accepted  by  the  Divine  goodness,  is 
imputed  to  us  for  righteousness.  Here  we  see  how  curiously 
their  argument  proceeds.  We  assert  that  faith  justifies,  not  by 
procuring  us  a  righteousness  through  its  own  merit,  but  as 
the  instrument  by  which  we  freely  obtain  the  righteousness  of 
Christ.  These  men,  passing  over  in  silence  the  mercy  of  God, 
and  making  no  mention  of  Christ,  in  whom  is  the  substance  of 
righteousness,  contend  that  we  are  justified  by  the  virtue  of 
charity,  because  it  is  more  excellent  than  faith  ;  just  as  though 
any  one  should  insist  that  a  king,  in  consequence  of  his  superior 
rank,  is  more  expert  at  making  a  shoe  than  a  shoemaker.  This 
one  argument  affords  an  ample  proof  that  all  the  Sorbonic 
schools  are  destitute  of  the  least  experience  of  justification  by 
faith.  But  if  any  wrangler  should  yet  inquire,  why  we  un- 
derstand Paul  to  use  the  word  faith  in  dilferent  acceptations  in 
the  same  discourse,  I  am  prepared  with  a  substantial  reason  for 
such  an  interpretation.  For  since  those  gifts  which  Paul  enu- 
merates, are  in  some  respect  connected  with  faith  and  hope, 
because  they  relate  to  the  knowledge  of  God,  he  summarily 
comprises  them  all  under  those  two  words ;  as  though  he  had 
said.  The  end  of  prophecy,  and  of  tongues,  of  knowledge,  and  of 
the  gift  of  interpretation,  is  to  conduct  us  to  the  knowledge  of 
God.  But  we  know  God  in  this  life  only  by  hope  and  faith. 
Therefore,  when  I  mention  faith  and  hope,  I  comprehend  all 
these  things  under  them.  "  And  now  abideth  faith,  hope, 
charity,  these  three ;  "  that  is,  all  gifts,  whatever  may  be  their 
variety,  are  referred  to  these.  "  But  the  greatest  of  these  is 
charity."  From  the  third  passage  they  infer,  that  if  "charity 
is  the  bond  of  perfectness,"  it  is  therefore  the  bond  of  right- 

60  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

eousness,  which  is  no  other  than  perfection.  Now,  to  refrain 
from  observing  that  what  Paul  cahs  perfectnesSy  is  the  mutual 
connection  which  subsists  between  the  members  of  a  weh-con- 
stituted  church,  and  to  admit  that  charity  constitutes  onr  per- 
fection before  God  ;  yet  what  new  advantage  will  they  gain  ? 
On  the  contrary,  I  shall  always  object,  that  we  never  arrive 
at  that  perfection,  unless  we  fulfil  all  the  branches  of  charity  ; 
and  hence  I  shall  infer,  that  since  all  men  are  at  an  immense 
distance  from  complete  charity,  they  are  destitute  of  all  hope 
of  perfection. 

IX.  I  have  no  inclination  to  notice  all  the  passages  of  Scrip- 
ture, which  the  folly  of  the  modern  Sorbonists  seizes  as  they 
occur,  and  without  any  reason  employs  against  us.  For  some 
of  them  are  so  truly  ridiculous,  that  I  could  not  even  mention 
them,  unless  I  wished  to  be  accounted  a  fool.  I  shall  therefore 
conclude  this  subject  after  having  explained  a  sentence  uttered 
by  Christ,  with  which  they  are  wonderfully  pleased.  To  a 
lawyer,  who  asked  him  what  was  necessary  to  salvation,  he 
replied,  "  If  thou  wilt  enter  into  life,  keep  the  command- 
ments." (6)  What  can  we  wish  more,  say  they,  when  the 
Author  of  grace  himself  commands  to  obtain  the  kingdom  of 
heaven  by  an  observance  of  the  commandments  ?  As  though 
it  were  not  evident,  that  Christ  adapted  his  replies  to  those  with 
whom  he  conversed.  Here  a  doctor  of  the  law  inquires  the 
method  of  obtaining  happiness,  and  that  not  simply,  but  what 
men  must  do  in  order  to  attain  it.  Both  the  character  of  the 
speaker  and  the  inquiry  itself  induced  the  Lord  to  make  this 
reply.  The  inquirer,  persuaded  of  the  righteousness  of  the  law, 
possessed  a  blind  confidence  in  his  works.  Besitles,  he  only 
inquired  what  were  those  works  of  righteousness  by  which  sal- 
vation might  be  procured.  He  is  therefore  justly  referred  to 
the  law,  which  contains  a  perfect  mirror  of  righteousness.  We 
also  explicitly  declare,  that  if  life  be  sought  by  works,  it  is  indis- 
pensably requisite  to  keep  the  commandments.  And  this  doctrine 
is  necessary  to  be  known  by  Christians ;  for  how  should  they 
flee  for  refuge  to  Christ,  if  they  did  not  acknowledge  themselves 
to  have  fallen  from  the  way  of  life  upon  the  precipice  of  death  ? 
And  how  could  they  know  how  far  they  have  wandered  from 
the  way  of  life,  without  a  previous  knowledge  of  what  that 
way  of  life  is  ?  It  is  then,  therefore,  that  Christ  is  presented  to 
them  as  the  asylum  of  salvation,  when  they  perceive  the  vast 
diiference  between  their  own  lives  and  the  Divine  righteousness, 
which  consists  in  the  observance  of  the  law.  The  sum  of  the 
whole  is,  that  if  we  seek  salvation  by  works,  we  must  keep  the 
commandments,  by  which  we  are  taught  perfect  righteousness. 

(6)  Matt.  XIX.  17. 


But  to  stop  here,  would  be  failing  in  the  midst  of  our  course ; 
for  to  keep  the  commandments  is  a  task  to  which  none  of  us 
are  equal.  Being  excluded,  then,  from  the  righteousness  of  the 
law,  we  are  under  the  necessity  of  resorting  to  some  other  refuge, 
namely,  to  faith  in  Christ.  Wherefore,  as  the  Lord,  knowing 
this  doctor  of  the  law  to  be  inflated  with  a  vain  confidence  in  his 
works,  recalls  his  attention  to  the  law,  that  it  may  teach  him 
his  own  character  as  a  sinner,  obnoxious  to  the  tremendous 
sentence  of  eternal  death,  so,  in  another  place,  addressing  those 
who  have  already  been  humbled  under  this  knowledge,  he 
omits  all  mention  of  the  law,  and  consoles  them  with  a  promise 
of  grace  —  "Come  unto  me,  all  ye  that  labour  and  are  heavy 
laden,  and  I  will  give  you  rest ;  and  ye  shall  find  rest  unto 
your  souls."  (c) 

X.  At  length,  after  our  adversaries  have  wearied  themselves 
with  perversions  of  Scripture,  they  betake  themselves  to  sub- 
tleties and  sophisms.  They  cavil,  that  faith  is  in  some  places 
called  a  work,  [d)  and  hence  they  infer  that  we  improperly 
oppose  faith  to  works.  As  though  faith  procured  righteousness 
for  us  by  its  intrinsic  merit,  as  an  act  of  obedience  to  the  Divine 
will,  and  not  rather  because,  by  embracing  the  Divine  mercy,  it 
seals  to  our  hearts  the  righteousness  of  Christ,  which  that  mercy 
offers  to  us  in  the  preaching  of  the  gospel.  The  reader  will 
pardon  me  for  not  dwelling  on  the  confutation  of  such  follies ; 
for  they  require  nothing  to  refute  them  but  their  own  weakness. 
But  I  wish  briefly  to  answer  one  objection,  which  has  some  ap- 
pearance of  reason,  to  prevent  its  being  the  source  of  any  dif- 
ficulty to  persons  who  have  had  but  little  experience.  Since 
common  sense  dictates  that  opposites  are  subject  to  similar 
rules,  and  as  all  sins  are  imputed  to  us  for  unrighteousness, 
they  maintain  it  to  be  reasonable,  on  the  other  hand,  that  all 
good  works  should  be  imputed  to  us  for  righteousness.  Those 
who  reply,  that  the  condemnation  of  men  proceeds  from  un- 
belief alone,  and  not  from  particular  sins,  do  not  satisfy  me.  I 
agree  with  them,  that  incredulity  is  the  fountain  and  root  of  all 
evils.  For  it  is  the  original  defection  from  God,  which  is 
afterwards  followed  by  particular  transgressions  of  the  law. 
But  as  they  appear  to  fix  one  and  the  same  rule  for  good 
and  evil  works  in  forming  a  judgment  of  righteousness  or  un- 
righteousness, here  I  am  obliged  to  dissent  from  them.  For 
the  righteousness  of  works  is  the  perfect  obedience  of  the  law. 
We  cannot  therefore  be  righteous  by  works,  unless  we  follow 
this  straight  line  throughout  the  whole  of  our  lives.  The  first 
deviation  from  it  is  a  lapse  into  unrighteousness.  Hence  it 
appears  that  righteousness  arises  not  from  one  or  a  few  works, 

(c)  Matt.  xi.  28,  29.  {d)  John  vi.  29. 

62  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

but  from  an  inflexible  and  indefatigable  observance  of  the 
Divine  will.  But  the  rule  of  judging  of  unrighteousness  is  very 
different.  For  he  who  has  committed  fornication  or  theft,  is 
for  one  transgression  liable  to  the  sentence  of  death,  because  he 
has  olfended  against  the  divine  Majesty.  These  disputants  of 
ours,  therefore,  fall  into  an  error  for  want  of  adverting  to  the 
decision  of  James,  that  "  whosoever  shall  keep  the  whole  law, 
and  yet  oflend  in  one  point,  he  is  guilty  of  all."  For  he  that 
said,  "  Do  not  commit  adultery,"  said  also,  "  Do  not  kill,"  &c.  (e) 
It  ought  not,  therefore,  to  be  deemed  absurd,  when  we  say,  that 
death  is  the  reward  justly  due  to  every  sin,  because  they  are  all 
and  every  one  deserving  of  the  indignation  and  vengeance  of  God. 
But  it  will  be  a  weak  argument  to  infer,  on  the  contrary,  that 
one  good  work  will  reconcile  a  man  to  God,  whose  wrath  he 
has  incurred  by  a  multitude  of  sins. 



We  have  now  to  treat  of  Christian  liberty,  an  explanation  of 
which  ought  not  to  be  omitted  in  a  treatise  which  is  designed 
to  comprehend  a  compendious  summary  of  evangelical  doctrine. 
For  it  is  a  subject  of  the  first  importance,  and  unless  it  be  well 
understood,  our  consciences  scarcely  venture  to  undertake  any 
thing  without  doubting,  experience  in  many  things  hesitation 
and  reluctance,  and  are  always  subject  to  fluctuations  and  fears. 
But  especially  it  is  an  appendix  to  justification,  and  affords  no 
small  assistance  towards  the  knowledge  of  its  influence.  Hence 
they  who  sincerely  fear  God  will  experience  the  incomparable 
advantage  of  that  doctrine,  which  impious  scoffers  pursue  with 
their  railleries  ;  because  in  the  spiritual  intoxication  with  which 
they  are  seized,  they  allow  themselves  the  most  unbounded 
impudence.  Wherefore  this  is  the  proper  time  to  introduce  the 
subject ;  and  though  we  have  slightly  touched  upon  it  on  some 
former  occasions,  yet  it  was  useful  to  defer  the  full  discussion 
of  it  to  this  place  ;  because,  as  soon  as  any  mention  is  made  of 
Christian  liberty,  then  either  inordinate  passions  rage,  or  violent 
emotions  arise,  unless  timely  opposition  be  made  to  those 
wanton  spirits,  who  most  nefariously  corrupt  things  which  are 
otherwise  the  iDest.     For  some,  under  the  pretext  of  this  liberty, 

(c)  James  ii.  10,  11. 


cast  off  all  obedience  to  God,  and  precipitate  themselves  into 
the  most  unbridled  licentiousness ;  and  some  despise  it,  sup- 
posing it  to  be  subversive  of  all  moderation,  order,  and  moral 
distinctions.  What  can  we  do  in  this  case,  surrounded  by  such 
difficulties  ?  Shall  we  entirely  discard  Christian  liberty,  and  so 
preclude  the  occasion  of  such  dangers?  But,  as  we  have  ob- 
served, unless  this  be  understood,  there  can  be  no  right  know- 
ledge of  Christ,  or  of  evangelical  truth,  or  of  internal  peace  of 
mind.  We  should  rather  exert  ourselves  to  prevent  the  sup- 
pression of  such  a  necessary  branch  of  doctrine,  and  at  the 
same  time  to  obviate  those  absurd  objections  which  are  fre- 
quently deduced  from  it. 

II.  Christian  liberty,  according  to  my  judgment,  consists 
of  three  parts.  The  first  part  is,  that  the  consciences  of  be- 
lievers, when  seeking  an  assurance  of  their  justification  before 
God,  should  raise  themselves  above  the  law,  and  forget  all  the 
righteousness  of  the  law.  For  since  the  law,  as  we  have  else- 
where demonstrated,  leaves  no  man  righteous,  either  we  must 
be  excluded  from  all  hope  of  justification,  or  it  is  necessary  for 
us  to  be  delivered  from  it,  and  that  so  completely  as  not  to  have 
any  dependence  on  works.  For  he  who  imagines,  that  in  order 
to  obtain  righteousness  he  must  produce  any  works,  however 
small,  can  fix  no  limit  or  boundary,  but  renders  himself  a  debtor 
to  the  whole  law.  Avoiding,  therefore,  all  mention  of  the  law, 
and  dismissing  all  thought  of  our  own  works,  in  reference  to 
justification,  we  must  embrace  the  Divine  mercy  alone,  and 
turning  our  eyes  from  ourselves,  fix  them  solely  on  Christ. 
For  the  question  is,  not  how  we  can  be  righteous,  but  how, 
though  unrighteous  and  unworthy,  we  can  be  considered  as 
righteous.  And  the  conscience  that  desires  to  attain  any  cer- 
tainty respecting  this,  must  give  no  admission  to  the  law.  Nor 
will  this  authorize  any  one  to  conclude,  that  the  law  is  of 
no  use  to  believers,  whom  it  still  continues  to  instruct  and 
exhort,  and  stimulate  to  duty,  although  it  has  no  place  in  their 
consciences  before  the  tribunal  of  God.  For  these  two  things, 
being  very  different,  require  to  be  properly  and  carefully  dis- 
tinguished by  us.  The  whole  life  of  Christians  ought  to  be  an 
exercise  of  piety,  since  they  are  called  to  sanctification.  (/)  It 
is  the  office  of  the  law  to  remind  them  of  their  duty,  and  there- 
by to  excite  them  to  the  pursuit  of  holiness  and  integrity.  But 
when  their  consciences  are  solicitous  how  God  may  be  propi- 
tiated, what  answer  they  shall  make,  and  on  what  they  shall 
rest  their  confidence,  if  called  to  his  tribunal,  there  must  then 
be  no  consideration  of  the  requisitions  of  the  law,  but  Christ 
alone  must  be  proposed  for  righteousness,  who  exceeds  all  the 
perfection  of  the  law. 

(/)  Ephes.  i.  4.     1  Thess.  iv.  3,  7. 

64  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

III.  On  this  point  turns  almost  the  whole  argument  of  the 
Epistle  to  the  Galatians.  For  that  they  are  erroneous  ex- 
positors, who  maintain,  that  Paul  there  contends  only  for  liberty 
from  ceremonies,  may  be  proved  from  the  topics  of  his  reasoning. 
Such  as  these  :  "  Christ  hath  redeemed  us  from  the  curse  of  the 
law,  being  made  a  curse  for  us."  (g)  Again  :  "  Stand  fast,  there- 
fore, in  the  liberty  wherewith  Christ  hath  made  us  free,  and  be 
not  entangled  again  with  the  yoke  of  bondage.  Behold,  I  Paul 
say  unto  you,  that  if  ye  be  circumcised,  Christ  shall  profit  you 
nothing.  Every  man  that  is  circumcised  is  a  debtor  to  do  the 
whole  law.  Christ  is  become  of  no  effect  unto  you,  whosoever 
of  you  are  justified  by  the  law  ;  ye  are  fallen  from  grace."  (h) 
These  passages  certainly  comprehend  something  more  exalted 
than  a  freedom  from  ceremonies.  I  confess,  indeed,  that  Paul 
is  there  treating  of  ceremonies,  because  lie  is  contending  with 
the  false  apostles,  who  attempted  to  introduce  again  into  the 
Christian  Church  the  ancient  shadows  of  the  law,  which  had 
been  abolished  by  the  advent  of  Christ.  But  for  the  decision 
of  this  question  it  was  necessary  to  discuss  some  higher  topics,  in 
which  the  whole  controversy  lay.  First,  because  the  brightness 
of  the  gospel  was  obscured  by  those  Jewish  shadows,  he  shows 
that  in  Christ  we  have  a  complete  exhibition  of  all  those  things 
which  were  adumbrated  by  the  ceremonies  of  Moses.  Secondly, 
because  these  impostors  instilled  into  the  people  the  very  perni- 
cious opinion,  that  this  ceremonial  obedience  was  sufficient  to 
merit  the  Divine  favour,  he  principally  contends,  that  be- 
lievers ought  not  to  suppose  that  they  can  obtain  righteousness 
before  God  by  any  works  of  the  law,  much  less  by  those  in- 
ferior elements.  And  he  at  the  same  time  teaches,  that  from 
the  condemnation  of  the  law,  which  otherwise  impends  over  all 
men,  they  are  delivered  by  the  cross  of  Christ,  that  they  may 
rely  with  perfect  security  on  him  alone  — a  topic  which  properly 
belongs  to  our  present  subject.  Lastly,  he  asserts  the  liberty  of 
the  consciences  of  believers,  which  ought  to  be  laid  under  no 
obligation  in  things  that  are  not  necessary. 

IV.  The  second  part  of  Christian  liberty,  which  is  dependent 
on  the  first,  is,  that  their  consciences  do  not  observe  the  law,  as 
being  under  any  legal  obligation  ;  but  that,  being  liberated  from 
the  yoke  of  the  law,  they  yield  a  voluntary  obedience  to  the 
will  of  God.  For  being  possessed  with  perpetual  terrors,  as 
long  as  they  remain  imder  the  dominion  of  the  law,  they  will 
never  engage  with  alacrity  and  promptitude  in  the  service  of 
God,  unless  they  have  previously  received  this  liberty.  We 
shall  more  easily  and  clearly  discover  the  design  of  these  things 
from  an  example.     The  precept  of  the  law  is,  "  Thou   shalt 

(^)  Gal.  iii.  13.  (A)  Gal.  v.  1—4. 


love  the  Lord  thy  God  with  all  thine  heart,  and  with  all  thy 
soul,  and  with  all  thy  might."  (i)  That  this  command  may  be 
fulfilled,  our  soul  must  be  previously  divested  of  every  other 
perception  and  thought,  our  heart  must  be  freed  from  all  desires, 
and  om-  might  must  be  collected  and  contracted  to  this  one  point. 
Those  who,  compared  with  others,  have  made  a  very  consi- 
derable progress  in  the  way  of  the  Lord,  are  yet  at  an  immense 
distance  from  this  perfection.  For  though  they  love  God  with 
their  soul,  and  with  sincere  affection  of  heart,  yet  they  have  still 
much  of  their  heart  and  soul  occupied  by  carnal  desires,  which 
retard  their  progress  towards  God.  They  do  indeed  press 
forward  with  strong  exertions,  but  the  flesh  partly  debilitates 
their  strength,  and  partly  attracts  it  to  itself  What  can  they  do 
in  this  case,  when  they  perceive  that  they  are  so  far  from  ob- 
serving the  law  ?  They  wish,  they  aspire,  they  endeavour,  but 
they  do  nothing  with  the  perfection  that  is  required.  If  they 
advert  to  the  law,  they  see  that  every  work  they  attempt  or 
meditato  is  accursed.  Nor  is  there  the  least  reason  for  any 
person  to  deceive  himself,  by  concluding  that  an  action  is  not 
necessarily  altogether  evil,  because  it  is  imperfect,  and  that 
therefore  the  good  part  of  it  is  accepted  by  God.  For  the  law, 
requiring  perfect  love,  condemns  all  imperfection,  unless  its 
rigour  be  mitigated.  Let  him  consider  his  work,  therefore, 
which  he  wished  to  be  thought  partly  good,  and  he  will  find 
that  very  work  to  be  a  transgression  of  the  law,  because  it  is 

V.  See  how  all  our  works,  if  estimated  according  to  the 
rigour  of  the  law,  are  subject  to  its  curse.  How,  then,  could 
unhappy  souls  apply  themselves  with  alacrity  to  any  work  for 
which  they  could  expect  to  receive  nothing  but  a  curse  ?  On 
the  contrary,  if  they  are  liberated  from  the  severe  exaction  of 
the  law,  or  rather  from  the  whole  of  its  rigour,  and  hear  God 
calling  them  with  paternal  gentleness,  then  with  cheerfulness 
and  prompt  alacrity  they  will  answer  to  his  call  and  follow  his 
guidance.  In  short,  they  who  are  bound  by  the  yoke  of  the 
law,  are  like  slaves  who  have  certain  daily  tasks  appointed  by 
their  masters.  They  think  they  have  done  nothing,  and  pre- 
sume not  to  enter  into  the  presence  of  their  masters  without 
having  finished  the  work  prescribed  to  them.  But  children, 
who  are  treated  by  their  parents  in  a  more  liberal  manner, 
hesitate  not  to  present  to  them  their  imperfect,  and  in  some 
respects  faulty  works,  in  confidence  that  their  obedience  and 
promptitude  of  mind  will  be  accepted  by  them,  though  they 
have  not  performed  all  that  they  wished.  Such  children  ought 
we  to  be,  feeling  a  certain  confidence  that  our  services,  however 

(0    Deut.  vi.  5. 


small,  rude,  and  imperfect,  will  be  approved  by  our  most  indul- 
gent Father.  This  he  also  confirms  to  us  by  the  prophet :  "  1 
will  spare  them,"  saith  he,  "as  a  man  sparetli  his  own  son  that 
serveth  him  ;  "  (k)  where  it  is  evident,  from  the  mention  of 
service,  that  the  word  spare  is  used  to  denote  indulgence,  or  an 
overlooking  of  faults.  And  we  have  great  need  of  this  confi- 
dence, without  which  all  our  endeavours  will  be  vain  ;  for 
God  considers  us  as  serving  him  in  none  of  our  works,  but 
such  as  are  truly  done  by  us  to  his  honour.  But  how  can 
this  be  done  amidst  those  terrors,  where  it  is  a  matter  of  doubt 
whether  our  works  offend  God  or  honour  him  ? 

VI.  This  is  the  reason  why  the  author  of  the  Epistle  to  the 
Hebrews  refers  to  faith,  and  estimates  only  by  faith,  all  the 
good  works  which  are  recorded  of  the  holy  patriarchs,  (l)  On 
this  liberty  there  is  a  remarkable  passage  in  the  Epistle  to  the 
Romans,  where  Paul  reasons  that  sin  ought  not  to  have  do- 
minion over  us,  because  we  are  not  under  the  law,  but  under 
grace,  (ni)  For  after  he  had  exhorted  believers,  "  Let  not 
sin,  therefore,  reign  in  your  mortal  body  ;  neither  yield  ye 
your  members  as  instruments  of  unrighteousness ;  but  yield 
yourselves  unto  God,  as  those  that  are  alive  from  the  dead, 
and  your  members  as  instruments  of  righteousness  unto 
God,"  (m)  —  they  might,  on  the  contrary,  object  that  they  yet 
carried  about  with  them  the  flesh  full  of  inordinate  desires,  and 
that  sin  dwelt  in  them  ;  but  he  adds  the  consolation  furnished 
by  their  liberty  from  the  law ;  as  though  he  had  said,  Al- 
though you  do  not  yet  experience  sin  to  be  destroyed,  and 
righteousness  living  in  you  in  perfection,  yet  you  have  no 
cause  for  terror  and  dejection  of  mind,  as  if  God  were  perpetu- 
ally offended  on  account  of  your  remaining  sin ;  because  by 
grace  you  are  emancipated  from  the  law,  that  your  works  may 
not  be  judged  according  to  that  rule.  But  those,  who  infer 
that  we  may  commit  sin  because  we  are  not  under  the  law, 
may  be  assured  that  they  have  no  concern  with  this  liberty, 
the  end  of  which  is  to  animate  us  to  virtue, 

VII.  The  third  part  of  Christian  liberty  teaches  us,  that  we 
are  bound  by  no  obligation  before  God  respecting  external 
things,  which  in  themselves  are  indifferent ;  but  that  we  may 
indifferently  sometimes  use,  and  at  other  times  omit  them. 
And  the  knowledge  of  this  liberty  also  is  very  necessary  for 
us ;  for  without  it  we  shall  have  no  tranquillity  of  conscience, 
nor  will  there  be  any  end  of  superstitions.  Many  in  the  pre- 
sent age  think  it  a  folly  to  raise  any  dispute  concerning  the 
free  use  of  meats,  of  days,  and  of  habits,  and  similar  subjects, 
considering  these  things  as  frivolous  and  nugatory ;  but  they 

(k)  Mai.  iii.  17.        (0  Heb.  xi.  2.         (m)  Rom.  vi.  14.        (n)  Rom.  vi.  12, 13. 


are  of  greater  importance  than  is  generally  believed.  For 
when  the  conscience  has  once  fallen  into  the  snare,  it  enters  a 
long  and  inextricable  labyrinth,  from  which  it  is  afterwards 
difficult  to  escape  ;  if  a  man  begin  to  doubt  the  lawfulness  of 
using  flax  in  sheets,  shirts,  handkerchiefs,  napkins,  and  table 
cloths,  neither  will  he  be  certain  respecting  hemp,  and  at  last 
he  will  doubt  of  the  lawfulness  of  using  tow ;  for  he  will 
consider  with  himself  whether  he  cannot  eat  without  table 
cloths  or  napkins,  whether  he  cannot  do  without  handkerchiefs. 
If  any  one  imagine  delicate  food  to  be  unlawful,  he  will  ere 
long  have  no  tranquillity  before  God  in  eating  brown  bread  and 
common  viands,  while  he  remembers  that  he  might  support 
his  body  with  meat  of  a  quality  still  inferior.  If  he  hesitate 
respecting  good  wine,  he  will  afterwards  be  unable  with  any 
peace  of  conscience  to  drink  the  most  vapid  ;  and  at  last  he  will 
not  presume  even  to  touch  purer  and  sweeter  water  than  others. 
In  short,  he  will  come  to  think  it  criminal  to  step  over  a  twig 
that  lies  across  his  path.  For  this  is  the  commencement  of  no 
trivial  controversy  ;  but  the  dispute  is  whether  the  use  of  cer- 
tain things  be  agreeable  to  God,  whose  will  ought  to  guide  all 
our  resolutions  and  all  our  actions.  The  necessary  consequence 
is,  that  some  are  hurried  by  despair  into  a  vortex  of  confusion, 
from  which  they  see  no  way  of  escape  ;  and  some,  despising 
God,  and  casting  off"  all  fear  of  him,  make  a  way  of  ruin  for 
themselves.  For  all,  who  are  involved  in.  such  doubts,  which 
way  soever  they  turn  their  views,  behold  something  offensive 
to  their  consciences  presenting  itself  on  every  side. 

VIII.  "  I  know,"  says  Paul,  "  that  there  is  nothing  unclean 
of  itself;  but  to  him  that  esteemeth  any  thing  to  be  unclean, 
to  him  it  is  unclean."  (o)  In  these  words  he  makes  all  ex- 
ternal things  subject  to  our  liberty,  provided  that  our  minds 
have  regard  to  this  liberty  before  God.  But  if  any  supersti- 
tious notion  cause  us  to  scruple,  those  things  which  were 
naturally  pure  become  contaminated  to  us.  Wherefore  he  sub- 
joins, "  Happy  is  he  that  condemneth  not  himself  in  that 
which  he  alloweth.  And  he  that  doubteth  is  condemned  if 
he  eat,  because  he  eateth  not  of  faith  ;  for  whatsoever  is  not 
of  faith  is  sin."  (p)  Are  not  they,  who  in  these  perplexities 
show  their  superior  boldness  by  the  security  of  their  presump- 
tion, guilty  of  departing  from  God  ?  Avhilst  they  who  are  deeply 
affected  with  the  true  fear  of  God,  Avhen  they  are  even  con- 
strained to  admit  many  things  to  which  their  own  consciences 
are  averse,  are  filled  with  terror  and  consternation.  No  persons 
of  this  description  receive  any  of  the  gifts  of  God  with  thanks- 
giving, by  which  alone  Paul,  nevertheless,  declares  them  to  be 
all  sanctified  to  our  use.  (q)    I  mean  a  thanksgiving  proceeding 

(o)  Rom.  xiv.  14.  (p)  Rom.  xiv.  22,  23.  (9)  1  Tim.  iv.  5, 

68  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

from  a  mind  which  acknowledges  the  beneficence  and  good- 
ness of  God  in  the  blessings  he  bestows.  For  many  of  them, 
indeed,  apprehend  the  good  things  which  they  use  to  be  from 
God,  whom  they  praise  in  his  works ;  but  not  being  persuaded 
that  they  are  given  to  them,  how  could  they  give  thanks  to 
God  as  the  giver  of  them  ?  We  see,  in  short,  the  tendency  of 
this  liberty,  which  is,  that  without  any  scruple  of  conscience  or 
perturbation  of  mind,  we  should  devote  the  gifts  of  God  to  that 
use  for  which  he  has  given  them ;  by  which  confidence  our 
souls  may  have  peace  with  him,  and  acknowledge  his  liberality 
towards  us.  For  this  comprehends  all  ceremonies,  the  observa- 
tion of  which  is  left  free,  that  the  conscience  may  not  be  bound 
by  any  obligation  to  observe  them,  but  may  remember  that  by 
the  goodness  of  God  it  may  use  them,  or  abstain  from  them,  as 
shall  be  most  conducive  to  edification. 

IX.  Now,  it  must  be  carefully  observed,  that  Christian  liberty 
is  in  all  its  branches  a  spiritual  thing  ;  all  the  virtue  of  which 
consists  in  appeasing  terrified  consciences  before  God,  whether 
they  are  disquieted  and  solicitous  concerning  the  remission  of 
their  sins,  or  are  anxious  to  know  if  their  works,  whicli  are  im- 
perfect and  contaminated  by  the  defilements  of  the  flesh,  be 
acceptable  to  God  ;  or  are  tormented  concerning  the  use  of 
things  that  are  indifferent.  Wherefore  they  are  guihy  of  per- 
verting its  meaning,  who  either  make  it  the  pretext  of  their 
irregular  appetites,  that  they  may  abuse  the  Divine  blessings  to 
the  purposes  of  sensuality,  or  who  suppose  that  there  is  no 
liberty  but  what  is  used  before  men,  and  therefore  in  the  exer- 
cise of  it  totally  disregard  their  weak  brethren.  The  former 
of  these  sins  is  the  more  common  in  the  present  age.  There 
is  scarcely  any  one,  whom  his  wealth  permits  to  be  sumptuous, 
who  is  not  delighted  with  luxurious  splendour  in  his  enter- 
tainments, in  his  dress,  and  in  his  buildings  ;  who  does  not 
desire  a  preeminence  in  every  species  of  luxury  ;  who  does  not 
strangely  flatter  himself  on  his  elegance.  And  all  these  things 
are  defended  under  the  pretext  of  Christian  liberty.  They  allege 
that  they  are  things  indifferent ;  this  I  admit,  provided  they  be 
indifferently  used.  But  where  they  are  too  ardently  coveted, 
proudly  boasted,  or  luxuriously  lavished,  these  things,  of  them- 
selves otherwise  indifferent,  are  completely  polluted  by  such 
vices.  This  passage  of  Paul  makes  an  excellent  distinction 
respecting  things  which  are  indifl'erent  :  "  Unto  the  pure  all 
things  are  pure  ;  but  unto  them  that  are  defiled  and  unbelieving 
is  nothing  pure ;  but  even  their  mind  and  conscience  is  de- 
filed." (r)  For  why  are  curses  denounced  on  rich  men,  who 
"  receive  their  consolation,"  who  are  "  satiated,"  who  "  now 

(r)  Titus  i.  15. 


laugh,"  who  "  lie  on  beds  of  ivory,"  who  ''  join  field  to  field," 
who  "  have  the  harp,  and  the  lyre,  and  the  tabret,  and  wine  in 
their  feasts  ? "  (s)  Ivory  and  gold,  and  riches  of  all  kinds,  are 
certainly  blessings  of  Divine  Providence,  not  only  permitted, 
but  expressly  designed  for  the  use  of  men  ;  nor  are  we  any  where 
prohibited  to  laugh,  or  to  be  satiated  with  food,  or  to  annex 
new  possessions  to  those  already  enjoyed  by  ourselves  or  by  our 
ancestors,  or  to  be  delighted  with  musical  harmony,  or  to  drink 
wine.  This  indeed  is  true  ;  but  amidst  an  abundance  of  all 
things,  to  be  immersed  in  sensual  delights,  to  inebriate  the 
heart  and  mind  with  present  pleasures,  and  perpetually  to  grasp 
at  new  ones,  —  these  things  are  very  remote  from  a  legitimate  use 
of  the  Divine  blessings.  Let  them  banish,  therefore,  immoderate 
cupidity,  excessive  profusion,  vanity,  and  arrogance  ;  that  with 
a  pure  conscience  they  may  make  a  proper  use  of  the  gifts  of 
God.  When  their  hearts  shall  be  formed  to  this  sobriety,  they 
will  have  a  rule  for  the  legitimate  enjoyment  of  them.  On  the 
contrary,  without  this  moderation,  even  common  and  ordina- 
ry pleasures  are  chargeable  with  excess.  For  it  is  truly  ob- 
served, that  a  proud  heart  frequently  dwells  under  coarse  and 
ragged  garments,  and  that  simplicity  and  humility  are  some- 
times concealed  under  purple  and  fine  linen.  Let  all  men,  in 
their  respective  stations,  whether  of  poverty,  of  competence,  or  of 
splendour,  live  in  the  remembrance  of  this  truth,  that  God  confers 
his  blessings  on  them  for  the  support  of  life,  not  for  luxury  ;  and 
let  them  consider  this  as  the  law  of  Christian  liberty,  that  they 
learn  the  lesson  which  Paul  had  learned,  when  he  said,  "  I  have 
learned,  in  whatsoever  state  I  am,  therewith  to  be  content.  I 
know  both  how  to  be  abased,  and  I  know  how  to  abound  :  every 
where  and  in  all  things  I  am  instructed,  both  to  be  full  and  to  be 
hungry,  both  to  abound  and  to  suffer  need."  (t) 

X.  Many  persons  err  likewise  in  this  respect,  that,  as  if  their 
liberty  would  not  be  perfectly  secure  unless  witnessed  by  men, 
they  make  an  indiscriminate  and  imprudent  use  of  it- -a  dis- 
orderly practice,  which  occasions  frequent  oifence  to  their  weal: 
brethren.  There  are  some  to  be  found,  in  the  present  day, 
who  imagine  their  liberty  would  be  abridged,  if  they  were  not 
to  enter  on  the  enjoyment  of  it  by  eating  animal  food  on  Friday. 
Their  eating  is  not  the  subject  of  my  reprehension  ;  but  theii 
minds  require  to  be  divested  of  this  false  notion  ;  for  they  ought 
to  consider,  that  they  obtain  no  advantage  from  their  liberty 
before  men,  but  with  God  ;  and  that  it  consists  in  abstinence 
as  well  as  in  use.  If  they  apprehend  it  to  be  immaterial  in 
God's  view,  whether  they  eat  animal  food  or  eggs,  whether 
their  garments  be  scarlet  or  black,  it  is  quite  sufficient.     The 

(5)  Luke  vi.  24,  25.     Amos  vi.  1,  »fcc.     Isaiah  v.  8,  «&c.  («)  Phil.  iv.  11,  12. 

70  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    UU 

conscience,  to  which  the  benefit  of  this  liberty  was  due,  is  now 
emancipated.  Therefore,  though  they  abstain  from  flesh,  and 
wear  but  one  color,  during  all  the  rest  of  their  lives,  this  is  no 
diminution  of  their  freedom.  Nay,  because  they  are  free,  they 
therefore  abstain  with  a  free  conscience.  But  they  fall  into  a  very 
pernicious  error  in  disregarding  the  infirmity  of  their  brethren, 
which  it  becomes  us  to  bear,  so  as  not  rashly  to  do  any  tiling 
which  would  give  them  the  least  offence.  But  it  will  be  said, 
that  it  is  sometimes  right  to  assert  our  liberty  before  men. 
This  I  confess  ;  yet  the  greatest  caution  and  moderation  must 
be  observed,  lest  we  cast  off"  all  concern  for  the  weak,  whom 
God  has  so  strongly  recommended  to  our  regards. 

XI.  I  shall  now,  therefore,  make  some  observations  con- 
cerning offences  ;  how  they  are  to  be  discriminated,  what  are  to 
be  avoided,  and  what  are  to  be  disregarded ;  whence  we  may 
afterwards  determine  what  room  there  is  for  our  liberty  in  our 
intercourse  with  mankind.  I  approve  of  the  common  distinc- 
tion between  an  offence  given  and  an  offence  taken,  since  it  is 
plainly  countenanced  by  Scripture,  and  is  likewise  sufficiently 
significant  of  the  thing  intended  to  be  expressed.  If  you  do 
any  thing  at  a  wrong  time  or  place,  or  with  an  unseasonable 
levity,  or  wantonness,  or  temerity,  by  which  the  weak  and  in- 
experienced are  offended,  it  must  be  termed  an  offence  given 
by  you  ;  because  it  arises  from  your  fault.  And  an  offence  is 
always  said  to  be  given  in  any  action,  the  fault  of  which  pro- 
ceeds from  the  performer  of  that  action.  An  offence  taken  is, 
when  any  transaction,  not  otherwise  unseasonable  or  culpable, 
is,  through  malevolence,  or  some  perverse  disposition,  construed 
into  an  occasion  of  offence.  For  in  this  instance  the  off"ence  is 
not  given,  but  taken  without  reason  by  such  perverseness  of 
construction.  The  first  species  of  offence  affects  none  but  the 
weak  ;  the  second  is  created  by  moroseness  of  temper,  and 
Pharisaical  superciliousness.  Wherefore  we  shall  denominate 
the  former,  the  ofl^ence  of  the  weak,  the  latter,  that  of  Pha- 
risees ;  and  we  shall  so  temper  the  use  of  our  liberty,  that  it 
ought  to  submit  to  the  ignorance  of  weak  brethren,  but  not  at 
all  to  the  austerity  of  Pharisees.  For  our  duty  to  the  weak, 
Paul  fully  shows  in  many  places.  "  Him  that  is  weak  in  the 
faith  receive  ye."  Again :  "  Let  us  not  therefore  judge  one 
another  any  more ;  but  judge  this  rather,  that  no  man  put  a 
stumbling-block  or  an  occasion  to  fall  in  his  brother's  way  ;  "  (v) 
and  much  more  to  the  same  import,  which  were  better  exa- 
mined in  its  proper  connection  than  recited  here.  The  sum  of 
all  is,  that  "  we,  then,  that  are  strong,  ought  to  bear  the  infirmi- 
ties of  the  weak,  and  not  to  please  ourselves.     Let  every  one  of 

(m)  Rom.  xiv.  1,  13. 


US  please  his  neighbour  for  his  good  to  edification."  (v)  In 
another  place  :  "  But  take  heed  lest  by  any  means  this  liberty 
of  yours  become  a  stumbling-block  to  them  that  are  weak."  (w) 
Again :  "  Whatsoever  is  sold  in  the  shambles,  that  eat ;  ask- 
ing no  questions  for  conscience'  sake ;  conscience,  I  say,  not 
thine  own,  but  of  the  other."  In  short,  "Give  none  offence, 
neither  to  the  Jews,  nor  to  the  Gentiles,  nor  to  the  Church  of 
God."  (:r)  In  another  place  also:  "Brethren,  ye  have  been 
called  unto  liberty ;  only  use  not  liberty  for  an  occasion  to  the 
flesh,  but  by  love  serve  one  another."  (ij)  The  meaning  of 
this  is,  that  our  liberty  is  not  given  us  to  be  used  in  opposition 
to  our  weak  neighbours,  to  whom  charity  obliges  us  to  do 
every  possible  service  ;  but  rather  in  order  that,  having  peace 
with  God  in  our  minds,  we  may  also  live  peaceably  among 
men.  But  how  much  attention  should  be  paid  to  an  offence 
taken  by  Pharisees,  we  learn  from  our  Lord's  injunction,  "  Let 
them  alone;  they  be  blind  leaders  of  the  blind."  {z)  The 
disciples  had  informed  him,  that  the  Pharisees  were  offended 
with  his  discourse.  He  replies  that  they  are  to  be  let  alone, 
and  their  offence  disregarded. 

XII.  But  the  subject  is  still  pending  in  uncertainty,  unless 
we  know  Avhom  we  are  to  account  weak,  and  whom  we  are  to 
consider  as  Pharisees ;  without  which  distinction,  I  see  no  use 
of  liberty  in  the  midst  of  offences,  but  such  as  must  be  at- 
tended with  the  greatest  danger.  But  Paul  appears  to  me  to 
have  very  clearly  decided,  both  by  doctrine  and  examples,  how 
far  our  liberty  should  be  either  moderated  or  asserted  on  the 
occurrence  of  offences.  When  he  made  Timothy  his  associate, 
he  circumcised  him ;  (a)  but  could  not  be  induced  to  circum- 
cise Titus,  (b)  Here  was  a  difference  in  his  proceedings,  but 
no  change  of  mind  or  of  purpose.  In  the  circumcision  of  Ti- 
mothy, "  though  he  was  free  from  all  men,  yet  he  made  himself 
servant  unto  all ;  "  and  says  he,  "  Unto  the  Jews  I  became  as  a 
Jew,  that  I  might  gain  the  Jews  ;  to  them  that  are  under  the 
law,  as  under  the  law,  that  I  might  gain  them  that  are  under 
the  law :  I  am  made  all  things  to  all  men,  that  I  might  by  all 
means  save  some."  (e)  Thus  we  have  a  proper  moderation  of 
liberty,  if  it  may  be  indifferently  restricted  with  any  advantage. 
His  reason  for  resolutely  refraining  from  circumcising  Titus, 
he  declares  in  the  following  words  :  "  But  neither  Titus,  who 
was  with  me,  being  a  Greek,  was  compelled  to  be  circumcised  , 
and  that  because  of  false  brethren  unawares  brought  in,  who 
came  in  privily  to  spy  out  our  liberty  which  we  have  in  Christ 
Jesus,  that  they  might  bring  us  into  bondage ;  to  whom  we' 

(v)  Rom.  XV.  1,  2.  ((/)  Gal.  v.  13.  (b)  Gal.  ii.  3. 

(w)  1  Cor.  viii.  9.  (z)  Matt.  xv.  14.  (c)  1  Cor.  ix.  19, 

(x)  1  Cor  I.  25,  29,  32.  (a)  Acts  xvi.  3.  20,  22. 



gave  place  by  subjection,  no,  not  for  an  hour ;  that  the  truth 
of  the  gospel  might  continue  with  you."  (d)  We  also  are 
under  the  necessity  of  vindicating  our  liberty,  if  it  be  endan- 
gered in  weak  consciences  by  the  iniquitous  requisitions  of 
false  apostles.  We  must  at  all  times  study  charity,  and  keep 
in  view  the  edification  of  our  neighbour.  "All  things  (says 
Paul)  are  lawful  for  me,  but  all  things  are  not  expedient:  all 
things  are  lawful  for  me,  but  all  things  edify  not.  Let  no  man 
seek  his  own,  but  every  man  another's."  (e)  Nothing  can  be 
plainer  than  this  rule,  that  our  liberty  should  be  used,  if  it  con- 
duces to  our  neighbour's  edification  ;  b«t  that  if  it  be  not  bene- 
ficial to  our  neighbour,  it  should  be  abridged.  There  are  some, 
who  pretend  to  imitate  the  prudence  of  Paul  m  refraining  from 
the  exercise  of  liberty,  while  they  are  doing  any  thing  but  ex- 
ercising the  duties  of  charity.  For  to  promote  their  own  tran- 
quillity, they  wish  all  mention  of  liberty  to  be  buried  ;  whereas 
it  is  no  less  advantageous  to  our  neighbours  sometimes  to  use 
our  hberty  to  their  benefit  and  edification,  than  at  other  times 
to  moderate  it  for  their  accommodation.  But  a  pious  man  con- 
siders this  liberty  in  external  things  as  granted  him  in  order 
that  he  may  be  the  better  prepared  for  all  the  duties  of  charity. 
XIII.  But  whatever  I  have  advanced  respecting  the  avoid- 
ance of  oftences,  I  wish  to  be  referred  to  indifferent  and  un- 
important things  ;  for  necessary  duties  must  not  be  omitted 
through  fear  of  any  off'ence  :  as  our  liberty  should  be  subject 
to  charity,  so  charity  itself  ought  to  be  subservient  to  the  purity 
of  faith.  It  becomes  us,  indeed,  to  have  regard  to  charity  ;  but 
we  must  not  ofiend  God  for  the  love  of  our  neighbour.  We 
cannot  approve  the  intemperance  of  those  who  do  nothing  but  in 
a  tumultuous  manner,  and  who  prefer  violent  measures  to  le- 
nient ones.  Nor  must  we  listen  to  those,  who,  while  they  show 
themselves  the  leaders  in  a  thousand  species  of  impiety,  pretend 
that  they  are  obliged  to  act  in  such  a  manner,  that  they  may  give 
no  ofience  to  their  neighbours ;  as  though  they  are  not  at  the 
same  time  fortifying  the  consciences  of  their  neighbours  in  sin  ; 
especially  since  they  are  always  sticking  in  the  same  mire 
without  any  hope  of  deliverance.  And  whether  their  neighbour 
is  to  be  instructed  by  doctrine  or  by  example,  they  maintain 
that  he  ought  to  be  fed  with  milk,  though  they  are  infecting 
him  with  the  worst  and  most  pernicious  notions.  Paul  tells 
the  Corinthians,  "  I  have  fed  you  with  milk;  "  (/)  but  if  the 
Popish  mass  had  been  then  introduced  among  them,  would  he 
have  united  in  that  pretended  sacrifice  in  order  to  feed  them 
with  milk  ?  Certainly  not ;  for  milk  is  not  poison.  They  are 
guilty  of  falsehood,  therefore,  in  saying  that  they  feed  those 

(d)  Gal.  ii.  3—5.  (e)  1  Cor.  x.  23,  24.  (/)  1  Cor.  iii.  8. 


whom  they  cruelly  murder  under  the  appearance  of  such  flat- 
teries. But  admitting  that  such  dissimulation  is  to  be  approved 
for  a  time,  how  long  will  they  feed  their  children  with  the 
same  milk  ?  For  if  they  never  grow,  so  as  to  be  able  to  bear 
even  some  light  meat,  it  is  a  clear  proof  that  they  were  never 
fed  with  milk.  I  am  prevented  from  pushing  this  con- 
troversy with  them  any  further  at  present,  by  two  reasons  — 
first,  because  their  absurdities  scarcely  deserve  a  refutation, 
being  justly  despised  by  all  men  of  sound  understanding ; 
secondly,  having  done  this  at  large  in  particular  treatises,  I  am 
unwilling  to  travel  the  same  ground  over  again.  Only  let  the 
readers  remember,  that  with  whatever  offences  Satan  and  the 
world  may  endeavour  to  divert  us  from  the  ordinances  of  God, 
or  to  retard  our  pursuit  of  what  he  enjoins,  yet  we  must  never- 
theless strenuously  advance  ;  and  moreover,  that  whatever  dan- 
gers threaten  us,  we  are  not  at  liberty  to  deviate  even  a  hair's 
breadth  from  his  command,  and  that  it  is  not  lawful  under  any 
pretext  to  attempt  any  thing  but  what  he  permits. 

XIV.  Now,  since  the  consciences  of  believers,  being  pri- 
vileged with  the  liberty  which  we  have  described,  have  been 
delivered  by  the  favour  of  Christ  from  all  necessary  obliga- 
tion to  the  observance  of  those  things  in  which  the  Lord  has 
been  pleased  they  should  be  left  free,  we  conclude  that  they 
are  exempt  from  all  human  authority.  For  it  is  not  right  that 
Christ  should  lose  the  acknowledgments  due  to  such  kindness, 
or  our  consciences  the  benefit  of  it.  Neither  is  that  to  be 
accounted  a  trivial  thing,  which  we  see  cost  Christ  so  much ; 
which  he  estimated  not  with  gold  or  silver,  but  with  his  own 
blood ',  (n)  so  that  Paul  hesitates  not  to  assert,  that  his  death  is 
rendered  vain,  if  we  suffer  our  souls  to  be  in  subjection  to  men.  (o) 
For  his  sole  object  in  some  chapters  of  his  Epistle  to  the  Gala- 
tians  is  to  prove  that  Christ  is  obscured,  or  rather  abolished,  with 
respect  to  us,  unless  our  consciences  continue  in  their  liberty ; 
from  which  they  are  certainly  fallen,  if  they  can  be  insnared  in 
the  bonds  of  laws  and  ordinances  at  the  pleasure  of  men.  (p) 
But  as  it  is  a  subject  highly  worthy  of  being  understood,  so  it 
needs  a  more  diffuse  and  perspicuous  explanation.  For  as  soon 
as  a  word  is  mentioned  concerning  the  abrogation  of  human 
establishments,  great  tumults  are  excited,  partly  by  seditious 
persons,  partly  by  cavillers  ;  as  though  all  obedience  of  men 
were  at  once  subverted  and  destroyed. 

XY.  To  prevent  any  one  from  falling  into  this  error,  let  us 
therefore  consider,  in  the  first  place,  that  man  is  under  two  kinds 
of  government  —  one  spiritual,  by  which  the  conscience  is 
formed  to  piety  and  the  service  of  God ;  the  other  political,  by 

(ra)  1  Peter  i.  18,  19.  (o)  Gal.  v.  1,  4.  (p)  1  Cor.  vii.  23 

VOL.    II.  10 

74  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

which  a  man  is  instructed  in  the  duties  of  humanity  and  civi- 
lity, which  are  to  be  observed  in  an  intercourse  with  mankind. 
They  are  generally,  and  not  improperly,  denominated  the 
spiritual  and  the  temporal  jurisdiction ;  indicating  that  the 
former  species  of  government  pertains  to  the  life  of  the  soul,  and 
that  the  latter  relates  to  the  concerns  of  the  present  state ;  not 
only  to  the  provision  of  food  and  clothing,  but  to  the  enactment 
of  laws  to  regulate  a  man's  life  among  his  neighbours  by  the 
rules  of  holiness,  integrity,  and  sobriety.  For  the  former  has  its 
seat  in  the  interior  of  the  mind,  whilst  the  latter  only  directs 
the  external  conduct :  one  may  be  termed  a  spiritual  kingdom, 
and  the  other  a  political  one.  But  these  two,  as  we  have  dis- 
tinguished them,  always  require  to  be  considered  separately  ; 
and  while  the  one  is  under  discussion,  the  mind  must  be  ab- 
stracted from  all  consideration  of  the  other.  For  man  contains, 
as  it  were,  two  worlds,  capable  of  being  governed  by  various 
rulers  and  various  laws.  This  distinction  will  prevent  what 
the  gospel  inculcates  concerning  spiritual  liberty  from  being 
misapplied  to  political  regulations ;  as  though  Christians  were 
less  subject  to  the  external  government  of  human  laws,  because 
their  consciences  have  been  set  at  liberty  before  God  ;  as 
though  their  freedom  of  spirit  necessarily  exempted  them  from 
all  carnal  servitude.  Again,  because  even  in  those  constitutions 
which  seem  to  pertain  to  the  spiritual  kingdom,  there  may 
possibly  be  some  deception,  it  is  necessary  to  discriminate 
between  these  also ;  which  are  to  be  accounted  legitimate,  as 
according  with  the  Divine  word,  and  which,  on  the  contrary, 
ought  not  to  be  received  among  believers.  Of  civil  govern- 
ment I  shall  treat  in  another  place.  Of  ecclesiastical  laws 
also  I  forbear  to  speak  at  present ;  because  a  full  discussion  of 
them  will  be  proper  in  the  Fourth  Book,  where  we  shall  treat 
of  the  power  of  the  Church.  But  we  shall  conclude  the  present 
argument  in  the  following  manner :  The  question,  which,  as  I 
have  observed,  is  in  itself  not  very  obscure  or  intricate,  greatly 
perplexes  many,  because  they  do  not  distinguish  with  sufficient 
precision  between  the  external  jurisdiction  and  the  court  of 
conscience.  The  difficulty  is  increased  by  Paul's  injunction  to 
obey  magistrates  "not  only  for  wrath,  but  also  for  conscience' 
sake  ;  "  (q)  from  which  it  should  follow,  that  the  conscience  also 
is  bound  by  political  laws.  But  if  this  were  true,  it  would 
supersede  all  that  we  have  already  said,  or  are  now  about  to 
say,  respecting  spiritual  government.  For  the  solution  of  this 
difficulty,  it  will  be  of  use,  first,  to  know  what  conscience  is. 
And  the  definition  of  it  must  be  derived  from  the  etymology  of 
the  word.     For  as,  when  men  apprehend  the  knowledge  of 

(q)  Rom.  xiii.  1,  5. 


things  in  the  mind  and  understanding,  they  are  thence  said 
scire,  '•  to  know,"  whence  is  derived  the  word  scientia, 
''  science  "  or  "  knowledge  ;  "  so  when  they  have  a  sense  of 
Divine  justice,  as  an  additional  witness,  which  permits  them 
not  to  conceal  their  sins,  or  to  elude  accusation  at  the  tribunal 
of  the  supreme  Judge,  this  sense  is  termed  conscientia,  "  con- 
science." For  it  is  a  kind  of  medium  between  God  and  man ; 
because  it  does  not  suffer  a  man  to  suppress  what  he  knows 
within  himself,  but  pursues  him  till  it  brings  him  to  conviction. 
This  is  what  Paul  means  by  "their  conscience  also  bearing 
witness,  and  their  thoughts  accusing,  or  else  excusing,  one 
another."  (r)  Simple  knowledge  might  remain,  as  it  were, 
confined  within  a  man.  This  sentiment,  therefore,  which 
places  man  before  the  Divine  tribunal,  is  appointed,  as  it  were, 
to  watch  over  man,  to  observe  and  examine  all  his  secrets,  that 
nothing  may  remain  enveloped  in  darkness.  Hence  the  old 
proverb.  Conscience  is  as  a  thousand  witnesses.  For  the  same 
reason  Peter  speaks  of  "  the  answer  of  a  good  conscience 
towards  God,"  (s)  to  express  our  tranquillity  of  mind,  when, 
persuaded  of  the  favour  of  Christ,  we  present  ourselves  with 
boldness  in  the  presence  of  God.  And  the  author  of  the 
Epistle  to  the  Hebrews  expresses  absolution  or  freedom  from 
every  future  charge  of  sin,  by  "having  no  more  conscience 
of  sin."  {t) 

XVI.  Therefore,  as  works  respect  men,  so  conscience  regards 
God ;  so  that  a  good  conscience  is  no  other  than  inward  in- 
tegrity of  heart.  In  which  sense  Paul  says,  that  "  the  end  of 
the  commandment  is  charity,  out  of  a  pure  heart,  and  of  a  good 
conscience,  and  of  faith  unfeigned."  [u)  Afterwards  also,  in 
the  same  chapter,  he  shows  how  widely  it  differs  from  under- 
standing, saying,  that  "  some,  having  put  away  a  good  con- 
science, concerning  faith  have  made  shipwreck."  {w)  For 
these  words  indicate  that  it  is  a  lively  inclination  to  the  service 
of  God,  and  a  sincere  pursuit  of  piety  and  holiness  of  life. 
Sometimes,  indeed,  it  is  likewise  extended  to  men  ;  as  when 
the  same  apostle  declares,  "  Herein  do  I  exercise  myself,  to 
have  always  a  conscience  void  of  offence  toward  God  and 
toward  men."  {x)  But  the  reason  of  this  assertion  is,  that  the 
fruits  of  a  good  conscience  reach  even  to  men.  But  in  strict 
propriety  of  speech  it  has  to  do  with  God  alone,  as  I  have 
already  observed.  Hence  it  is  that  a  law,  which  simply  binds 
a  man  without  relation  to  other  men,  or  any  consideration  of 
them,  is  said  to  bind  the  conscience.  For  example,  God  not 
only  enjoins  the  preservation  of  the  mind  chaste  and  pure  from 
every  libidinous  desire,  but  prohibits  all  obscenity  of  language 

(r)  Rom.  ii.  15.  (t)  Hcb.  x.  2.  (ir)   1  Tim.  i.  19. 

\s)  1  Peter  iii.  21.  (m)  1  Tim.  i.  5.  (z)  Acts  xxiv.  16. 

76  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

and  external  lasciviousness.  The  observance  of  this  law  is  in- 
cumbent on  my  conscience,  though  there  were  not  another  man 
existing  in  the  world.  Thus  he  who  transgresses  the  limits  of 
temperance,  not  only  sins  by  giving  a  bad  example  to  his 
brethren,  but  contracts  guilt  on  his  conscience  before  God. 
Things  in  themselves  indifferent  are  to  be  guided  by  other 
considerations.  It  is  our  duty  to  abstain  from  them,  if  they 
tend  to  the  least  offence,  yet  without  violating  our  liberty  of 
conscience.  So  Paul  speaks  concerning  meat  consecrated  to 
idols:  "If  any  man  say  unto  you.  This  is  offered  in  sacrifice 
to  idols,  eat  not  for  conscience'  sake ;  conscience,  I  say,  not 
thine  own,  but  of  the  other."  (y)  A  pious  man  would  be  guilty 
of  sin,  who,  being  previously  admonished,  should,  nevertheless, 
eat  such  meat.  But  though,  with  respect  to  his  brother, 
abstinence  is  necessary  for  him,  as  it  is  enjoined  by  God,  yet 
he  ceases  not  to  retain  liberty  of  conscience.  We  see,  then, 
how  this  law,  though  it  binds  the  external  action,  leaves  the 
conscience  free. 


ON      PRAYER,    THE      PRINCIPAL      EXERCISE       OF      FAITH,    AND      THE 

From  the  subjects  already  discussed,  we  clearly  perceive 
how  utterly  destitute  man  is  of  every  good,  and  in  want  of  all 
the  means  of  salvation.  Wherefore,  if  he  seek  for  relief  in  his 
necessities,  he  must  go  out  of  himself,  and  obtain  it  from  some 
other  quarter.  It  has  been  subsequently  stated,  that  the  Lord 
voluntarily  and  liberally  manifests  himself  in  his  Christ,  in 
whom  he  offers  us  all  felicity  instead  of  our  misery,  and  opu- 
lence instead  of  our  poverty  ;  in  whom  he  opens  to  our  view  the 
treasures  of  heaven,  that  our  faith  may  be  wholly  engaged  in 
the  contemplation  of  his  beloved  Son,  that  all  our  expectation 
may  depend  upon  him,  and  that  in  him  all  our  hope  may  rest 
and  be  fully  satisfied.  This,  indeed,  is  that  secret  and  recondite 
philosophy,  which  cannot  be  extracted  from  syllogisms  ;  but 
is  well  understood  by  those  whose  eyes  God  has  opened,  that 
in  his  light  they  may  see  light.  But  since  we  have  been 
taught  by  faith  to  acknowledge,  that  whatever  we  want  for 
the  supply  of  our  necessities  is  in  God  and  our  Lord  Jesus 
Christ,  in  whom  it  has  pleased  the  Father  all  the  fulness  of  his 

(y)  1  Cor.  X.  28,  29. 


bounty  should  dwell,  that  we  may  all  draw  from  it,  as  from  a 
most  copious  fountain,  it  remains  for  us  to  seek  in  hmi,  and 
by  prayers  to  implore  of  him,  that  which  we  have  been  in- 
formed resides  in  him.  Otherwise  to  know  God  as  the  Lord 
and  Giver  of  every  good,  who  invites  us  to  supplicate  him,  but 
neither  to  approach  him  nor  to  supplicate  him,  would  be  equally 
unprofitable,  as  for  a  man  to  neglect  a  treasure  discovered  to 
him  buried  in  the  earth.  Wherefore  the  apostle,  to  show  that 
true  faith  cannot  but  be  engaged  in  calling  upon  God,  has  laid 
down  this  order  —  that,  as  faith  is  produced  by  the  gospel,  so 
by  faith  our  hearts  are  brought  to  invoke  the  name  of  the 
Lord,  {z)  And  this  is  the  same  as  he  had  a  little  before  said, 
that  the  "  Spirit  of  adoption,"  who  seals  the  testimony  of  the 
gospel  in  our  hearts,  encourages  our  spirits,  so  that  they  ven- 
ture to  pour  out  their  desires  before  God,  excite  "  groanings 
that  cannot  be  uttered,"  and  cry  with  confidence,  "Abba, 
Father."  (a)  This  last  subject,  therefore,  having  been  before 
only  cursorily  mentioned  and  slightly  touched,  requires  now  to 
be  treated  more  at  large. 

IL  By  means  of  prayer,  then,  we  penetrate  to  those  riches 
which  are  reserved  with  our  heavenly  Father  for  our  use. 
For  between  God  and  men  there  is  a  certain  communication ; 
by  which  they  enter  into  the  sanctuary  of  heaven,  and  in  his 
immediate  presence  remind  him  of  his  promises,  in  order  that 
his  declarations,  which  they  have  implicitly  believed,  may  in 
time  of  necessity  be  verified  in  their  experience.  We  see, 
therefore,  that  nothing  is  revealed  to  us,  to  be  expected  from 
the  Lord,  for  which  we  are  not  likewise  enjoined  to  pray ;  so 
true  is  it,  that  prayer  digs  out  those  treasures,  which  the  gos- 
pel of  the  Lord  discovers  to  our  faith.  Now,  the  necessity  and 
various  utility  of  the  exercise  of  prayer  no  language  can  suffi- 
ciently explain.  It  is  certainly  not  without  reason  that  our 
heavenly  Father  declares,  that  the  only  fortress  of  salvation 
consists  in  invocation  of  his  name  ;  by  which  we  call  to  our 
aid  the  presence  of  his  providence,  which  watches  over  all  our 
concerns;  of  his  power,  which  supports  us  when  weak  and 
ready  to  faint ;  and  of  his  goodness,  which  receives  us  hito 
favour,  though  miserably  burdened  with  sins;  in  which, 
finally,  we  call  upon  him  to  manifest  his  presence  with  us  in 
all  his  attributes.  Hence  our  consciences  derive  peculiar  peace 
and  tranquillity  ;  for  when  the  affliction  which  oppressed  us  is 
represented  to  the  Lord,  we  feel  abundant  composure  even 
from  this  consideration  —  that  none  of  our  troubles  are  concealed 
from  him,  whom  we  know  to  possess  both  the  greatest  readi 
ness  and  the  greatest  ability  to  promote  our  truest  interest. 

(z)  Rom.  X.  13,  14,  17.  (a)  Rom.  viii.  15,  26. 

78  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

III.    But  some  will  say,  Does  he  not,  without  information, 
know  both  our  troubles  and  our  necessities  ;  so  that  it  may  ap- 
pear unnecessary  to  solicit  him  with  our  prayers,  as  if  he  were 
inattentive  or  sleeping,  till  aroused  by  our  voice?     But  such 
reasoners  advert  not  to  the  Lord's  end  in  teaching  his  people  to 
pray  ;  for  he  has  appointed  it  not  so  much  for  his  own  sake  as 
for  ours.     It  is  his  pleasure  indeed,  as  is  highly  reasonable,  that 
his  right  be  rendered  to  him,  by  their  considering  him  as  the 
Author  of  all  that  is  desired  and  found  useful  by  men,  and  by 
their  acknowledgments  of  this  in  their  prayers.     But  the  uti- 
lity of  this  sacrifice,  by  which  he  is  worshipped,  returns  to  us. 
The  greater  the  confidence,  therefore,  with  which  the  ancient 
saints  gloried  in  the  Divine  benefits  to  themselves  and  others, 
with  so  much  the  more  earnestness  were  they  incited  to  pray. 
The  single  example  of  Elijah  shall  suffice,  who,  though  certain 
of  God's  design,  having  already  with  sufficient  authority  pro- 
mised rain  to  king  Ahab,  yet  anxiously  prays  between  his 
knees,  and  sends  his  servant  seven  times  to  look  for  it ;  (b)  not 
with  an  intention  to  discredit  the  Divine  oracle,  but  under  a 
conviction  of  his  duty  to  prevent  his  faith  becoming  languid 
and  torpid,  by  pouring  out  his  prayers  before  God.     Where- 
fore, although,  when  we  are  stupid  and  insensible  to  our  own 
miseries,  he  vigilantly  watches  and  guards  us,  and  sometimes 
affords  us  unsolicited   succour,  yet  it  highly  concerns  us  as- 
siduously to  supplicate  him,  that  our  heart  may  be  always  in- 
flamed with  a  serious  and  ardent  desire  of  seeking,  loving,  and 
worshipping  him,  while  we  accustom  ourselves  in  all  our  ne- 
cessities to  resort  to  him  as  our  sheet  anchor.     Further,  that  no 
desire  or  wish,  which  we  should  be  ashamed  for  him  to  know, 
may  enter  our  minds;  when  we  learn  to  present  our  wishes, 
and  so  to  pour  out  our  whole  heart  in  his  presence.     Next, 
that   we  may  be  prepared  to  receive  his  blessings  with  true 
gratitude  of  soul,  and  even  with  grateful  acknowledgments  ; 
being  reminded  by  our  praying  that  they  come  from  his  hand. 
Moreover,  that  when  we  have  obtained  what  we  sought,  the 
persuasion  that  he  has  answered  our  requests  may  excite  us  to 
more  ardent  meditations  on  his  goodness,  and  produce  a  more 
joyful  welcome  of  those  things  which  we  acknowledge  to  be 
the  fruits  of  our  prayers.     Lastly,  that  use  and  experience  itself 
may  yield  our  minds  a  confirmation  of  his  providence  in  pro- 
portion to  our  imbecility,  while  we  apprehend  that  he  not  only 
promises  never  to  forsake  us,  and  freely  opens  a  way  of  access 
for  our  addressing  him  in  the  very  moment  of  necessity ;  but 
that  his  hand  is  always  extended  to  assist  his  people,  whom  he 
does  not  feed  with  mere  words,  but  supports  with  present  aid. 

(6)  1  Kings  xviii.  42,  &c. 


On  these  accounts  our  most  merciful  Father,  though  liable  to 
no  sleep  or  languor,  yet  frequently  appears  as  if  he  were  sleepy 
or  languid,  in  order  to  exercise  us,  who  are  otherwise  slothful 
and  inactive,  in  approaching,  supplicating,  and  earnestly  im- 
portuning him  to  our  own  advantage.  It  is  extremely  absurd, 
therefore,  in  them  who,  with  a  view  to  divert  the  minds  of 
men  from  praying  to  God,  pretend  that  it  is  useless  for  us  by 
our  interruptions  to  weary  the  Divine  Providence,  which  is 
engaged  in  the  conservation  of  all  things  ;  whereas  the  Lord  de- 
clares, on  the  contrary,  that  he  "  is  nigh  to  all  that  call  upon 
him  in  truth."  (c)  And  equally  nugatory  is  the  objection  of 
others,  that  it  is  superfluous  to  petition  for  those  things  which 
the  Lord  is  ready  voluntarily  to  bestow  ;  whereas  even  those 
very  things,  which  flow  to  us  from  his  spontaneous  liberality, 
he  wishes  us  to  consider  as  granted  to  our  prayers.  This  is 
evinced  by  that  memorable  passage  in  the  Psalms,  as  well  as 
by  many  other  correspondent  texts,  —  "  The  eyes  of  the  Lord 
are  upon  the  righteous,  and  his  ears  are  open  unto  their 
cry ;  "  (d)  which  celebrates  the  Divine  Providence  as  sponta- 
neously engaged  to  accomplish  the  salvation  of  believers;  yet 
does  not  omit  the  exercise  of  faith,  by  which  sloth  is  expelled 
from  the  minds  of  men.  The  eyes  of  God,  then,  are  vigilant 
to  succour  the  necessity  of  the  blind ;  but  he  is  likewise  will- 
ing to  hear  our  groans,  to  give  a  better  proof  of  his  love 
towards  us.  And  thus  it  is  equally  true,  that  "he  that  keep- 
eth  Israel  neither  slumbers  nor  sleeps,"  and  yet  that  he  remains, 
as  it  were,  forgetful  of  us,  while  he  beholds  us  slothful  and 

IV.  Now,  for  conducting  prayer  in  a  right  and  proper  man- 
ner, the  first  rule  is,  that  our  heart  and  mind  be  composed  to  a 
suitable  frame,  becoming  those  who  enter  into  conversation 
with  God.  This  state  of  mind  we  shall  certainly  attain,  if, 
divested  of  all  carnal  cares  and  thoughts,  that  tend  to  divert 
and  seduce  it  from  a  right  and  clear  view  of  God,  it  not  only 
devotes  itself  entirely  to  the  solemn  exercise,  but  is  likewise  as 
far  as  possible  elevated  and  carried  above  itself.  Nor  do  I  here 
require  a  mind  so  disengaged  as  to  be  disturbed  by  no  solicitude  ; 
since  there  ought,  on  the  contrary,  most  anxiously  to  be  kindled 
within  us  a  fervency  of  prayer,  (as  we  see  the  holy  servants  of 
God  discover  great  solicitude,  and  even  anguish,  when  they 
say  they  utter  their  complaints  to  the  Lord  from  the  deep 
abysses  of  afiiiction  and  the  very  jaws  of  death.)  But  I  main- 
tain the  necessity  of  dismissing  all  foreign  and  external  cares, 
by  which  the  wandering  mind  may  be  hurried  hither  and 
thither,  and  dragged  from  heaven  down  to  earth.     It  ought  to 

(c)  Psalm  cxlv.  18.  (d)  Psalm  xxxiv.  15. 

80  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

be  elevated  above  itself,  that  it  may  not  intrude  into  the  Divine 
presence  any  of  the  imaginations  of  our  blind  and  foolish  reason, 
nor  confine  itself  within  the  limits  of  its  own  vanity,  but  rise 
to  purity  worthy  of  God. 

V.  Both  these  things  are  highly  worthy  of  observation  —  first, 
that  whoever  engages  in  prayer,  should  apply  all  his  faculties 
and  attention  to  it,  and  not  be  distracted,  as  is  commonly  the 
case,  with  wandering  thoughts  ;  nothing  being  more  contrary 
to  a  reverence  for  God  than  such  levity,  which  indicates  a 
licentious  spirit,  wholly  unrestrained  by  fear.  In  this  case  our 
exertions  must  be  great  in  proportion  to  the  difficulty  we 
experience.  For  no  man  can  be  so  intent  on  praying,  but  he 
may  perceive  many  irregular  thoughts  intruding  on  him,  and 
either  interrupting,  or  by  some  oblique  digression  retarding,  the 
course  of  his  devotions.  But  here  let  us  consider  what  an 
indignity  it  is,  when  God  admits  us  to  familiar  intercourse  with 
him,  to  abuse  such  great  condescension  by  a  mixture  of  things 
sacred  and  profane,  while  our  thoughts  are  not  confined  to  him 
by  reverential  awe  ;  but  as  if  we  were  conversing  with  a  mean 
mortal,  we  quit  him  in  the  midst  of  our  prayer,  and  make 
excursions  on  every  side.  We  may  be  assured,  therefore,  that 
none  are  rightly  prepared  for  the  exercise  of  prayer,  but  those 
who  are  so  affected  by  the  Divine  Majesty  as  to  come  to  it 
divested  of  all  earthly  cares  and  affections.  And  this  is  indi- 
cated by  the  ceremony  of  lifting  up  the  hands,  that  men  may 
remember  that  they  are  at  a  great  distance  from  God,  unless 
they  lift  up  their  thoughts  on  high.  As  it  is  also  expressed  in 
the  psalm,  "  Unto  thee  do  I  lift  up  my  soul."  (e)  And  the  Scrip- 
ture frequently  uses  this  mode  of  expression,  "  to  lift  up  one's 
prayer ;  "  that  they,  who  desire  to  be  heard  by  God,  may  not 
sink  into  lethargic  inactivity.  To  sum  up  the  whole,  the 
greater  the  liberality  of  God  towards  us,  in  gently  inviting  us 
to  disburden  ourselves  of  our  cares  by  casting  them  on  him, 
the  less  excusable  are  we,  unless  his  signal  and  incomparable 
favour  preponderate  with  us  beyond  every  thing  else,  and  at- 
tract us  to  him  in  a  serious  application  of  all  our  faculties  and 
attention  to  the  duty  of  prayer ;  which  cannot  be  done  unless 
our  mind  by  strenuous  exertion  rise  superior  to  every  impedi- 
ment. Our  second  proposition  is,  that  we  must  pray  for  no 
more  than  God  permits.  For  though  he  enjoins  us  to  pour  out 
our  hearts  before  him,  (/)  yet  he  does  not  carelessly  give  the 
reins  to  affections  of  folly  and  depravity ;  and  when  he  pro- 
mises to  "  fulfil  the  desire  "  (g)  of  believers,  he  does  not  go 
to  such  an  extreme  of  indulgence,  as  to  subject  himself  to  their 
caprice.     But  offences  against  both  these  rules  are  common 

(e)  Psalm  XXV.  1.  (/)  Psalm  Ixii.  6.  (^)  Psalm  cxiv.  19. 


and  great ;  for  most  men  not  only  presume,  without  modesty  or 
reverence,  to  address  God  concerning  their  folhes,  and  impu- 
dently to  utter  at  his  tribunal  whatever  has  amused  them  in 
theii  reveries  or  dreams,  but  so  great  is  their  folly  or  stupidity, 
that  they  dare  to  obtrude  upon  God  all  their  foulest  desires, 
which  they  would  be  exceedingly  ashamed  to  reveal  to  men. 
Some  heathens  have  ridiculed  and  even  detested  this  presump- 
tion, but  the  vice  itself  has  always  prevailed  ;  and  hence  it 
was  thi  t  the  ambitious  chose  Jupiter  as  their  patron  ;  the  ava- 
ricious, Mercury  ;  the  lovers  of  learning,  Apollo  and  Minerva  ; 
the  warlike,  Mars;  and  the  libidinous,  Venus;  just  as  in  the 
present  age  (as  I  have  lately  hinted)  men  indulge  a  greater 
license  to  their  unlawful  desires  in  their  prayers,  than  if  they 
were  conversing  in  a  jocular  manner  with  their  equals.  God 
suffers  not  his  indulgence  to  be  so  mocked,  but  asserts  his 
power,  and  subjects  our  devotions  to  his  commands.  There- 
fore we  ought  to  remember  this  passage  in  John  :  "  This  is  the 
confidence  that  we  have  in  him,  that,  if  we  ask  any  thing  ac- 
cording to  his  will,  he  heareth  us."  (h)  But  as  our  abilities  are 
very  unequal  to  such  great  perfection,  we  must  seek  some 
remedy  to  relieve  us.  As  the  attention  of  the  mind  ought  to 
be  fixed  on  God,  so  it  is  necessary  that  it  should  be  followed 
by  the  affection  of  the  heart.  But  they  both  remain  far  below 
this  elevation  ;  or  rather,  to  speak  more  consistently  with  truth, 
they  grow  weary  and  fail  in  the  ascent,  or  are  carried  a  contrary 
course.  Therefore,  to  assist  this  imbecility,  God  gives  us  the 
Spirit,  to  be  the  director  of  our  prayers,  to  suggest  what  is 
right,  and  to  regulate  our  affections.  For  "  the  Spirit  helpeth 
our  infirmities  ;  for  we  know  not  what  we  should  pray  for  as 
we  ought ;  but  the  Spirit  itself  maketh  intercession  for  us 
with  groanings  which  cannot  be  uttered  ;  "  («')  not  that  he 
really  prays  or  groans  ;  but  he  excites  within  us  confidence, 
desires,  and  sighs,  to  the  conception  of  which  our  native 
powers  were  altogether  inadequate.  Nor  is  it  without  reason 
that  Paul  terms  those  "groanings,"  which  arise  from  believers 
under  the  influence  of  the  Spirit,  "  unutterable ;  "  because 
they  who  are  truly  engaged  in  prayers,  are  not  ignorant  that 
they  are  so  perplexed  with  dubious  anxieties,  that  they  can 
scarcely  decide  what  it  is  expedient  to  utter ;  and  even 
while  they  are  attempting  to  lisp,  they  stammer  and  hesitate  ; 
whence  it  follows  that  the  ability  of  praying  rightly  is  a  pe- 
culiar gift.  These  things  are  not  said  in  order  that  we  may 
indulge  our  own  indolence,  resigning  the  office  of  prayer  to  the 
Spirit  of  God,  and  growing  torpid  in  that  negligence  to  which 
we  are  too  prone  ;  according  to  the  impious  errors  of  some,  that 

(Ji)  1  John  V.  14.  (i)  Rom.  viii.  26. 

VOL.     II.  11 

82  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

we  should  wait  in  indolent  supineness  till  he  call  onr  minds  from 
other  engagements  and  draw  them  to  himself;  but  rather  that, 
wearied  with  our  sloth  and  inactivity,  we  may  implore  such  as- 
sistance of  the  Spirit.  Nor  does  the  apostle,  when  he  exhorts 
us  to  "  pray  in  the  Holy  Ghost,"  (k)  encourage  us  to  remit  our 
vigilance  ;  signifying,  that  the  inspiration  of  the  Spirit  operates 
in  the  formation  of  our  prayers,  so  as  not  in  the  least  to  impede 
or  retard  our  own  exertions ;  since  it  is  the  will  of  God  to 
prove  in  this  instance  the  efficacious  influence  of  faith  on  our 

VI.  Let  this  be  the  second  rule  :  That  in  our  supplications 
we  should  have  a  real  and  permanent  sense  of  our  indigence, 
and  seriously  considering  our  necessity  of  all  that  we  ask, 
should  join  with  the  petitions  themselves  a  serious  and  ardent 
desire  of  obtaining  them.  For  multitudes  carelessly  recite  a 
form  of  prayer,  as  though  they  were  discharging  a  task  imposed 
on  them  by  God ;  and  though  they  confess  that  this  is  a 
remedy  necessary  for  their  calamities,  since  it  would  be  certain 
destruction  to  be  destitute  of  the  Divine  aid  which  they  im- 
plore, yet  that  they  perform  this  duty  merely  in  compliance 
with  custom,  is  evident  from  the  coldness  of  their  hearts,  and 
their  inattention  to  the  nature  of  their  petitions.  They  are 
led  to  this  by  some  general  and  confused  sense  of  their  ne- 
cessity, which  nevertheless  does  not  excite  them  to  implore  a 
relief  for  their  great  need  as  a  case  of  present  urgency.  Now, 
what  can  we  imagine  more  odious  or  execrable  to  God  than 
this  hypocrisy,  when  any  man  prays  for  the  pardon  of  sins, 
who  at  the  same  time  thinks  he  is  not  a  sinner,  or  at  least  does 
not  think  that  he  is  a  sinner  ?  which  is  an  open  mockery  of 
God  himself  But  such  depravity,  as  I  have  before  observed, 
pervades  the  whole  human  race,  that  as  a  matter  of  form  they 
frequently  implore  of  God  many  things  which  they  either  ex- 
pect to  receive  from  some  other  source  independent  of  his  good- 
ness, or  imagine  themselves  already  to  possess.  The  crime  of 
some  others  appears  to  be  smaller,  but  yet  too  great  to  be 
tolerated ;  who,  having  only  imbibed  this  principle,  that  God 
must  be  propitiated  by  devotions,  mutter  over  their  prayers 
without  meditation.  But  believers  ought  to  be  exceedingly 
cautious,  never  to  enter  into  the  presence  of  God  to  present  any 
petition,  without  being  inflamed  with  a  fervent  aff"ection  of  soul, 
and  feeling  an  ardent  desire  to  obtain  it  from  him.  Moreover, 
although  in  those  things  which  we  request  only  for  the  Divine 
glory,  we  do  not  at  the  first  glance  appear  to  regard  our  own 
necessity,  yet  it  is  incumbent  on  us  to  pray  for  them  with 
equal  fervour  and  vehemence  of  desire.    As  when  we  pray  that 

(A)  Jude  20.    1  Cor.  xiv.  15. 


his  name  may  be  hallowed,  or  sanctified,  we  ought  (so  to  speak) 
ardently  to  hunger  and  thirst  for  that  sanctificalion. 

VII.  If  any  man  object,  that  we  are  not  always  urged  to 
pray  by  the  same  necessity,  this  I  grant,  and  this  distinction  is 
usefully  represented  to  us  by  James :  "  Is  any  among  you  af- 
flicted ?  let  him  pray.  Is  any  merry?  let  him  sing  psalms."  (l) 
Common  sense  itself  therefore  dictates,  that  because  of  our 
extreme  indolence,  we  are  the  more  vigorously  stimulated  by 
Goa  to  earnestness  in  prayer  according  to  the  exigencies  of  our 
condition.  And  this  David  calls  "  a  time  when  God  may  be 
found,"  (m)  because  (as  he  teaches  in  many  other  places)  the 
more  severely  we  are  oppressed  by  troubles,  disasters,  fears,  and 
other  kinds  of  temptations,  we  have  the  greater  liberty  of  access 
to  God,  as  though  he  then  particularly  invited  us  to  approach 
*  him.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  equally  true  that  we  ought  to  be, 
as  Paul  says,  "praying  always,"  (w)  because,  how  great  soever 
we  may  believe  the  prosperity  of  our  affairs,  and  though  we  are 
surrounded  on  every  side  by  matter  of  joy,  yet  there  is  no  mo- 
ment of  time  in  which  our  necessity  does  not  furnish  incite- 
ments to  prayer.  Does  any  one  abound  in  wine  and  corn  ? 
Since  he  cannot  enjoy  a  morsel  of  bread  but  by  the  continual 
favour  of  God,  his  cellars  or  barns  afford  no  objection  to  his 
praying  for  daily  bread.  Now,  if  we  reflect  how  many  dangers 
threaten  us  every  moment,  fear  itself  will  teach  us  that  there  is 
no  time  in  which  prayer  is  unsuitable  to  us.  Yet  this  may  be 
discovered  still  better  in  spiritual  concerns.  For  when  will  so 
many  sins,  of  which  we  are  conscious,  suffer  us  to  remain  in 
security,  without  humbly  deprecating  both  the  guilt  and  the 
punishment  ?  When  will  temptations  grant  us  a  truce^  so  that 
we  need  not  be  in  haste  to  obtain  assistance  ?  Besides,  an 
ardent  desire  of  the  Divine  kingdom  and  glory  ought  irresisti- 
bly to  attract  us.  not  by  intervals,  but  without  intermission, 
rendering  every  season  equally  suitable.  It  is  not  in  vain, 
therefore,  that  assiduity  in  prayer  is  so  frequently  enjoined.  I 
speak  not  yet  of  perseverance,  which  shall  be  mentioned  here- 
after ;  but  the  scriptural  admonitions  to  "  pray  without  ceas- 
ing "  are  so  many  reproofs  of  our  sloth  ;  because  we  feel  not 
our  need  of  this  care  and  diligence.  This  rule  precludes  and 
banishes  from  prayer,  hypocrisy,  subtilty,  and  falsehood.  God 
promises  that  he  will  be  near  to  all  who  call  upon  him  in  truth, 
and  declares  he  will  be  found  by  those  who  seek  him  with 
their  whole  heart.  But  to  this,  persons  pleased  with  their  own 
impurity  never  aspire.  Legitimate  prayer,  therefore,  requires 
repentance.  Whence  it  is  frequently  said  in  the  Scriptures, 
that  God  hears  not  the  wicked,  and  that  their  prayers  are  an 

(0  James  v.  13.  (m)  Psalm  xxxii.  6.  (n)  Ephes.  vi.  18. 

84  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

abomination  ;  as  are  also  their  sacrifices  ;  for  it  is  reasonable, 
that  they  who  shut  up  their  OM'-n  hearts,  should  find  the  ears 
of  God  closed  against  them ;  and  God  should  be  inflexible  to 
them  who  provoke  his  rigour  by  their  obduracy.  In  Isaiah,  he 
threatens  thus  :  "  When  ye  make  many  prayers,  I  Avill  not 
hear  :  your  hands  are  full  of  blood,"  (o)  Again  in  Jeremiah  . 
"  I  protested,  yet  they  inclined  not  their  ear.  Therefore, 
though  they  shall  cry  unto  me,  I  will  not  hearken  unto 
them."  (jj)  Because  he  considers  himself  grossly  insulted  by 
the  wicked  boasting  of  his  covenant,  while  they  are  continually 
dishonouring  his  sacred  name.  Wherefore  he  complains,  in 
Isaiah,  "  This  people  draw  near  me  with  their  mouth,  but 
have  removed  their  heart  far  from  me."  (q)  He  does  not  re- 
strict this  solely  to  prayer ;  but  asserts  his  abhorrence  of  hy- 
pocrisy in  every  branch  of  his  worship.  Which  is  the  meaning* 
of  this  passage  in  James :  "Ye  ask,  and  receive  not,  because 
ye  ask  amiss,  that  ye  may  consume  it  upon  your  lusts."  (?■)  It 
is  true,  indeed,  (as  we  shall  presently  again  see,)  that  the 
prayers  of  the  faithful  depend  not  on  their  personal  worthiness  ; 
yet  this  does  not  supersede  the  admonition  of  John  :  "  What- 
soever we  ask,  we  receive  of  him,  because  we  keep  his  com- 
mandments ;  "  (s)  because  an  evil  conscience  shuts  the  gate 
against  us.  Whence  it  follows,  that  none  pray  aright,  and  that 
no  others  are  heard,  but  the  sincere  worshippers  of  God.  Who- 
soever therefore  engages  in  prayer,  should  be  displeased  with 
himself  on  account  of  his  sins,  and  assume,  what  he  cannot  do 
without  repentance,  the  character  and  disposition  of  a  beggar. 
VIII.  To  these  must  be  added  a  third  rule  —  That  whoever 
presents  himself  before  God  for  the  purpose  of  praying  to  him, 
must  renounce  every  idea  of  his  own  glory,  reject  all  opinion 
of  his  own  merit,  and,  in  a  word,  relinquish  all  confidence  in 
himself,  giving,  by  this  humiliation  of  himself,  all  the  glory 
entirely  to  God;  lest,  arrogating  any  thing,  though  ever  so 
little,  to  ourselves,  we  perish  from  his  presence  in  consequence 
of  our  vanity.  Of  this  submission,  which  prostrates  every  high 
thought,  we  have  frequent  examples  in  the  servants  of  God ; 
of  whom  the  most  eminent  for  holiness  feel  the  greatest  con- 
sternation on  entering  into  the  presence  of  the  l^ord.  Thus 
Daniel,  whom  the  Lord  himself  has  so  highly  commended, 
said,  "  We  do  not  present  our  supplications  before  thee  for  our 
righteousness,  but  for  thy  great  mercies.  O  Lord,  hear  ;  O 
Lord,  forgive  ;  O  Lord,  hearken  and  do ;  defer  not,  for  thine 
own  sake,  O  my  God  ;  for  thy  city  and  thy  people  are  called 
by  thy  name."  (t)  Nor  does  he,  as  is  generally  the  case, 
confound  himself  with  the  multitude,  as  one  of  the  people ; 

(o)  Isaiah  i.  15.  (7)  Isaiah  xxix.  13.  (s)  1  John  iii.  22. 

{p)  Jer.  xi.  7,  8,  11.  (r)  James  iv.  3.  (0  Dan.  ix.  18,  19. 


but  makes  a  separate  confession  of  his  own  guilt,  resorting  as  a 
suppliant  to  the  asylum  of  pardon ;  as  he  expressly  declares, 
•'  Whilst  I  was  confessing  my  sin,  and  the  sin  of  my  people."  (u) 
We  are  taught  the  same  humility  also  by  the  example  of  David  : 
"  Enter  not  into  judgment  with  thy  servant ;  for  in  thy  sight 
shall  no  man  living  be  justified."  (z?)  In  this  manner  Isaiah 
prays :  "  Behold,  thou  art  wroth  ;  for  we  have  sinned :  in  thy 
ways  is  continuance,  and  we  shall  be  saved.  For  we  are  all 
as  an  unclean  thing,  and  all  our  righteousnesses  are  as  filthy 
rags  ;  and  we  all  do  fade  as  a  leaf ;  and  our  iniquities,  like  the 
wind,  have  taken  us  away.  And  there  is  none  that  calleth 
upon  thy  name,  that  stirreth  up  himself  to  take  hold  of  thee  ; 
for  thou  hast  hid  thy  face  from  us,  and  hast  consumed  us, 
because  of  our  iniquities.  But  now,  O  Lord,  thou  art  otu* 
Father;  we  are  the  clay,  and  thou  our  potter;  and  we  all  are 
the  work  of  thy  hand.  Be  not  wroth  very  sore,  O  Lord,  nei- 
ther remember  iniquity  for  ever  ;  behold,  see,  we  beseech  thee, 
we  are  all  thy  people."  (w)  Observe,  they  have  no  depend- 
ence but  this  ;  that  considering  themselves  as  God's  children, 
they  despair  not  of  his  future  care  of  them.  Thus  Jeremiah  : 
'•'  Though  our  iniquities  testify  against  us,  do  thou  it  for  thy 
name's  sake."  (x)  For  that  is  equally  consistent  with  the 
strictest  truth  and  holiness,  which  was  written  by  an  uncertain 
author,  but  is  ascribed  to  the  prophet  Baruch  :  "A  soul  sorrow- 
ful and  desolate  for  the  greatness  of  its  sin,  bowed  down  and 
infirm,  a  hungry  soul  and  fainting  eyes  give  glory  to  thee.  O 
Lord.  Not  according  to  the  righteousnesses  of  our  fathers  do  we 
pour  out  our  prayers  in  thy  sight,  and  ask  mercy  before  thy 
face,  O  Lord,  our  God ;  but  because  thou  art  merciful,  have 
mercy  upon  us,  for  we  have  sinned  against  thee."  (y) 

IX.  Finally,  the  commencement  and  even  introduction  to 
praying  rightly  is  a  supplication  for  pardon  with  an  humble  and 
ingenuous  confession  of  guilt.  For  neither  is  there  any  hope 
that  even  the  holiest  of  men  can  obtain  any  blessing  of  God  till 
he  be  freely  reconciled  to  him,  nor  is  it  possible  for  God  to  be 
propitious  to  any,  but  those  whom  he  pardons.  It  is  no  wonder, 
then,  if  believers  with  this  key  open  to  themselves  the  gate 
of  prayer ;  as  we  learn  from  many  places  in  the  Psalms.  For 
David,  when  requesting  another  thing,  says,  "  Remember  not 
the  sins  of  my  youth,  nor  my  transgressions :  according  to  thy 
mercy  remember  thou  me,  for  thy  goodness'  sake,  O  Lord." 
Again :  ''  Look  upon  mine  affliction  and  my  pain  ;  and  forgiv^e 
all  my  sins."  (z)  Where  we  likewise  perceive,  that  it  is  not 
sufficient  for  us  to  call  ourselves  to  a  daily  account  for  recent 
sins,  unless  we  remember  those  which  might  seem  to   have 

(m)  Dan.  ix.  20.  (w)  Isaiah  Ixiv.  5—9.  (ij)  Baruch  ii.  18. 

(»)  Psalm  ciliii.  2.  {x)  Jer.  xiv.  7.  (z)  Psalm  xxv.  7, 18. 

86  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

been  long  buried  in  oblivion.  For  the  same  Psalmist,  in  another 
place,  [a]  having  confessed  one  grievous  crime,  takes  occasion 
thence  to  revert  to  his  mother's  womb,  where  he  had  con- 
tracted his  original  pollution  ;  not  in  order  to  extenuate  his  guilt 
by  the  corruption  of  his  nature,  but  that,  accumulating  all  the 
sins  of  his  life,  he  may  find  God  the  more  ready  to  listen  to  his 
prayers  in  proportion  to  the  severity  of  his  self-condemnation. 
But  though  the  saints  do  not  always  in  express  terms  pray  for 
remission  of  sins,  yet  if  we  diligently  examine  their  prayers 
recited  in  the  Scriptures,  it  will  easily  appear,  as  I  assert,  that 
they  derived  their  encouragement  to  pray  from  the  mere  mercy 
of  God,  and  so  always  began  by  deprecating  his  displeasure ; 
for  if  every  man  examine  his  owi»  conscience,  he  is  so  far  from 
presuming  familiarly  to  communicate  his  cares  to  God,  that  he 
trembles  at  every  approach  to  him,  except  in  a  reliance  on  his 
mercy  and  forgiveness.  There  is  also,  indeed,  another  special 
confession,  when  they  wish  for  an  alleviation  of  punishments, 
which  is  tacitly  praying  for  the  pardon  of  their  sins  ;  because  it 
were  absurd  to  desire  the  removal  of  an  eflect,  while  the  cause 
remains.  For  we  must  beware  of  imitating  foolish  patients, 
who  are  only  solicitous  for  the  cure  of  the  symptoms,  but 
neglect  the  radical  cause  of  the  disease.  Besides,  we  should 
first  seek  for  God  to  be  propitious  to  us,  previously  to  any 
external  testimonies  of  his  favour ;  because  it  is  his  own  will 
to  observe  this  order,  and  it  would  be  of  little  advantage  to  us 
to  receive  benefits  from  him,  unless  a  discovery  to  the  con- 
science of  his  being  appeased  towards  us  rendered  him  alto- 
gether amiable  in  our  view.  Of  this  we  are  likewise  apprized 
by  the  reply  of  Christ ;  for  when  he  had  determined  to  heal  a 
paralytic  person,  he  said,  ''Thy  sins  be  forgiven  thee;  "(6) 
thereby  calling  our  attention  to  that  which  ought  to  be  the 
chief  object  of  desire,  that  God  may  receive  us  into  his  favour, 
and  then,  by  affording  us  assistance,  discover  the  effect  of  re- 
conciliation. But  beside  the  special  confession  of  present  guilt, 
in  which  believers  implore  the  pardon  of  every  sin  and  the 
remission  of  every  punishment,  that  general  preface,  which 
conciliates  a  favourable  attention  to  our  prayers,  is  never  to  be 
omitted ;  because,  unless  they  be  founded  on  God's  free  mercy, 
they  will  all  be  unavailing.  To  this  topic  we  may  refer  that 
passage  of  John  —  "  If  we  confess  our  sins,  he  is  faithful  and 
just  to  forgive  us  our  sins,  and  to  cleanse  us  from  all  unright- 
eousness." (c)  Wherefore,  under  the  law,  prayers  are  required 
to  be  consecrated  by  an  atonement  of  blood,  to  render  them  ac- 
ceptable, and  to  remind  the  people  that  they  were  unworthy  of 
so  great    and  honourable  a  privilege,  till,  purified  from   their 

(a)  Psalm  li.  5.  (h)  Matt.  ix.  2.  (c)  1  John  i.  9. 


pollutions,  they  should  derive  confidence  in  prayer  from  the 
mere  mercy  of  God. 

X.  But  when  the  saints  sometimes  appear  to  urge  their  own 
righteousness  as  an  argument  in  their  supplications  with  God, 
—  as  when  David  says,  "  Preserve  my  soul ;  for  I  am  holy  ;  "  {d) 
and  Hezekiah,  "  I  beseech  thee,  O  Lord,  remember  now  how  I 
have  walked  before  thee  in  truth,  and  have  done  that  which  is 
good  in  thy  sight,"  (e)  —  their  only  design  in  such  modes  of  ex- 
pression is,  from  their  regeneration  to  prove  themselves  to  be 
servants  and  sons  of  God,  to  whom  he  declares  he  will  be  pro- 
pitious. He  tells  us  by  the  Psalmist,  (as  we  have  already  seen, ) 
that  "  his  eyes  are  upon  the  righteous,  and  that  his  ears  are 
open  unto  their  cry;"(/)  and  again,  by  the  apostle,  that 
"  whatsoever  we  ask,  we  receive  of  him,  because  we  keep  his 
commandments ;  "  {g)  in  which  passages  he  does  not  determine 
the  value  of  prayer  according  to  the  merit  of  works ;  but 
intends  by  them  to  establish  the  confidence  of  those  who  are 
conscious  to  themselves,  as  all  believers  ought  to  be,  of 
unfeigned  integrity  and  innocence.  For  the  observation  in 
John,  made  by  the  blind  man  who  received  his  sight,  that 
"  God  heareth  not  sinners,"  {h)  is  a  principle  of  Divine  truth, 
if  we  understand  the  word  sinners,  in  the  common  acceptation 
^f  Scripture,  to  signify  those  who  are  all  asleep  and  content  in 
their  sins,  without  any  desire  of  righteousness  ;  since  no  heart 
can  ever  break  out  into  a  sincere  invocation  of  God,  unaccom- 
panied with  aspirations  after  piety.  To  such  promises,  there- 
fore, correspond  those  declarations  of  the  saints,  in  which  they 
introduce  the  mention  of  their  own  purity  or  innocence,  that 
they  may  experience  a  manifestation  to  themselves  of  what  is 
to  be  expected  by  all  the  servants  of  God.  Besides,  they  are 
generally  found  in  the  use  of  this  species  of  prayer,  when  before 
the  Lord  they  compare  themselves  with  their  enemies,  from 
whose  iniquity  they  desire  him  to  deliver  them.  Now,  in  this 
comparison,  we  need  not  wonder,  if  they  produce  their  right- 
eousness and  simplicity  of  heart,  in  order  to  prevail  upon  him 
by  the  justice  of  their  cause  to  yield  the  more  ready  assist- 
ance. We  object  not,  therefore,  to  the  pious  heart  of  a  good 
man  making  use  before  the  Lord  of  the  consciousness  of  his 
own  purity  for  his  confirmation  in  the  promises  which  the  Lord 
has  given  for  the  consolation  and  support  of  his  true  worship- 
pers ;  but  his  confidence  of  success  we  wish  to  be  independent 
of  every  consideration  of  personal  merit,  and  to  rest  solely  on 
the  Divine  clemency. 

XL  The  fourth  and  last  rule  is.  That  thus  prostrate  with 
true  humility,  we  should  nevertheless  be  animated  to  pray  by 

(d)  Psalm  Ixxxvi.  2.  (e)  2  King?  xx.  3.  (/)  Psalm  xxxiv.  15. 

(g)  1  John  iii.  22.  (A)  John  ix.  31. 

88  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

the  certain  hope  of  obtaining  our  requests.  It  is  indeed  an 
apparent  contradiction,  to  connect  a  certain  confidence  of  God's 
favour  with  a  sense  of  his  righteous  vengeance ;  though  these 
two  things  are  perfectly  consistent,  if  persons  oppressed  by 
their  own  guilt  be  encouraged  solely  by  the  Divine  goodness. 
For  as  we  have  before  stated,  that  repentance  and  faith,  of 
which  one  terrifies,  and  the  other  exhilarates,  are  inseparably 
connected,  so  their  union  is  necessary  in  prayer.  And  this 
agreement  is  briefly  expressed  by  David :  "I  will  come  (says 
he)  into  thy  house  in  the  multitude  of  thy  mercy ;  and  in  thy 
fear  will  I  worship  toward  thy  holy  temple."  (i)  Under  the 
"  goodness  of  God,"  he  comprehends  faith,  though  not  to  the 
exclusion  of  fear  ;  for  his  majesty  not  only  commands  our 
reverence,  but  our  own  unworthiness  makes  us  forget  all 
pride  and  security,  and  fills  us  with  fear.  I  do  not  mean  a 
confidence  which  delivers  the  mind  from  all  sense  of  anxiety, 
and  soothes  it  into  pleasant  and  perfect  tranquillity ;  for  such  a 
placid  satisfaction  belongs  to  those  whose  prosperity  is  equal 
to  their  wishes,  who  are  affected  by  no  care,  corroded  by  no 
desire,  and  alarmed  by  no  fear.  And  the  saints  have  an  ex- 
cellent stimulus  to  calling  upon  God,  when  their  necessities  and 
perplexities  harass  and  disquiet  them,  and  they  are  almost  de- 
spairing in  themselves,  till  faith  opportunely  relieves  them  ;  be- 
cause, amidst  such  troubles,  the  goodness  of  God  is  so  glorious 
in  their  view,  that  though  they  groan  under  the  pressure  of 
present  calamities,  and  are  likewise  tormented  with  the  fear  of 
greater  in  future,  yet  a  reliance  on  it  alleviates  the  difficulty  of 
bearing  them,  and  encourages  a  hope  of  deliverance.  The 
prayers  of  a  pious  man,  therefore,  must  proceed  from  both  these 
dispositions,  and  must  also  contain  and  discover  them  both  ; 
though  he  must  groan  under  present  evils,  and  is  anxiously 
afraid  of  new  ones,  yet  at  the  same  time  he  must  resort  for 
refuge  to  God,  not  doubting  his  readiness  to  extend  the  as- 
sistance of  his  hand.  For  God  is  highly  incensed  by  our 
distrust,  if  we  supplicate  him  for  blessings  which  we  have  no 
expectation  of  receiving.  There  is  nothing,  therefore,  more 
suitable  to  the  nature  of  prayers,  than  that  they  be  conformed 
to  this  rule  —  not  to  rush  forward  with  temerity,  but  to  follow 
the  steps  of  faith.  To  this  principle  Christ  calls  the  attention 
of  us  all  in  the  following  passage :  "  I  say  unto  you.  What 
things  soever  ye  desire,  when  ye  pray,  believe  that  ye  receive 
t'hem,  and  ye  shall  have  them."  (k)  This  he  confirms  also  in 
another  place  :  "  Whatsoever  ye  shall  ask  in  prayer,  believing, 
ye  shall  receive."  (/)  With  which  James  agrees  :  "If  any  of 
you  lack  wisdom,  let  him  ask  of  God,  that  giveth  to  all  men 

(i)  Fsalm  v.  7.  {k)  Mark  x\.  24.  (/)  Matt,  xxi.  22. 


liberally,  and  upbraideth  not.  But  let  him  ask  in  faith,  nothing 
wavering."  (m)  Where,  by  opposing  "faith  "  to  '•  wavering," 
he  very  aptly  expresses  its  nature.  And  equally  worthy  of 
attention  is  what  he  adds,  that  they  avail  nothing,  who  call 
upon  God  in  perplexity  and  doubt,  and  are  uncertain  in  their 
minds  whether  they  shall  be  heard  or  not ;  whom  he  even  com- 
pares to  waves,  which  are  variously  tossed  and  driven  about  with 
the  wind.  Whence  he  elsewhere  calls  a  legitimate  prayer  "  the 
prayer  of  faith."  (n)  Besides,  when  God  so  frequently  affirms, 
that  he  will  give  to  every  man  according  to  his  faith,  he  implies 
that  we  can  obtain  nothing  without  faith.  Finally,  it  is  faith 
that  obtains  whatever  is  granted  in  answer  to  prayer.  This  is 
the  meaning  of  that  famous  passage  of  Paul,  to  which  injudi- 
cious men  pay  little  attention  :  "  How  shall  they  call  on  him,  in 
whom  they  have  not  believed  ?  And  how  shall  they  believe  in 
him,  of  whom  they  have  not  heard  ?  So  then  faith  cometh  by 
hearing,  and  hearing  by  the  word  of  God."  (o)  For  by  a  re- 
gular deduction  of  prayer  originally  from  faith,  he  evidently 
contends,  that  God  cannot  be  sincerely  invoked  by  any,  but 
those  to  whom  his  clemency  and  gentleness  have  been  revealed 
and  familiarly  discovered  by  the  preaching  of  the  gospel. 

XII.  This  necessity  our  adversaries  never  consider.  There- 
fore, when  we  inculcate  on  believers  a  certain  confidence  of 
mind  that  God  is  propitious  and  benevolent  towards  them, 
they  consider  us  as  advancing  the  greatest  of  all  absurdities. 
But  if  they  were  in  the  habit  of  true  prayer,  they  would  cer- 
tainly understand,  that  there  can  be  no  proper  invocation  of 
God  without  such  a  strong  sense  of  the  Divine  benevolence. . 
But  since  no  man  can  fully  discover  the  power  of  faith  without 
an  experience  of  it  in  his  heart,  what  advantage  can  arise 
from  disputing  with  such  men,  who  plainly  prove  that  they 
never  had  any  other  than  a  vain  imagination  ?  For  the  value 
and  necessity  of  that  assurance  which  we  require,  is  chiefly 
learned  by  prayer ;  and  he  who  does  not  perceive  this,  betrays 
great  stupidity  of  conscience.  Leaving,  then,  this  class  of  blind- 
ed mortals,  let  us  ever  abide  by  the  decision  of  Paul,  that  God 
cannot  be  called  upon,  but  by  those  who  receive  from  the  gos- 
pel a  knowledge  of  his  mercy,  and  a  certain  persuasion  that  it 
is  prepared  for  them.  For  what  kind  of  an  address  would  this 
be?  "O  Lord,  I  am  truly  in  doubt,  whether  thou  be  willing 
to  hear  me  ;  but  since  I  am  oppressed  with  anxiety,  I  flee  to 
thee,  that  if  I  be  worthy  thou  mayest  assist  me."  This  does 
not  resemble  the  solicitude  of  the  saints,  whose  prayers  we 
read  in  the  Scriptures.  Nor  is  it  agreeable  to  the  teaching  of 
the  Holy  Spirit  by  the  apostle,  who  commands  us  "  to  come 

(m)  James  i.  5,  6.  (li)  James  v.  15  (p)  Rom.  x.  14,  17. 

VOL.    II.  12 

90  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

boldly  to  the  throne  of  grace,  that  we  may  find  grace  ;  "  (jt?) 
and  informs  us,  that  "  we  have  boldness  and  access,  with  con- 
fidence, by  the  faith  of  Christ."  {q)  This  assurance  of  obtaining 
what  we  implore,  therefore,  which  is  both  commanded  by  the 
Lord  himself,  and  taught  by  the  example  of  the  saints,  it  be- 
comes us  to  hold  fast  with  all  our  might,  if  we  would  pray  to 
any  good  purpose.  For  that  prayer  alone  is  accepted  by  God, 
which  arises  (if  I  may  use  the  expression)  from  such  a  pre- 
sumption of  faith,  and  is  founded  on  an  undaunted  assurance 
of  hope.  He  might,  indeed,  have  contented  himself  with  the 
simple  mention  of  "  faith  ;  "  yet  he  has  not  only  added  "  con- 
fidence," but  furnished  that  confidence  with  liberty  or  "  bold- 
ness," to  distinguish  by  this  critei^'on  between  us  and  unbe- 
lievers, who  do  indeed  pray  to  God  in  common  with  us,  but 
entirely  at  an  uncertainty.  For  which  reason,  the  whole 
Church  prays  in  the  psalm,  "  Let  thy  mercy,  O  Lord,  be 
upon  us,  according  as  we  hope  in  thee."  (r)  The  Psalmist 
elsewhere  introduces  the  same  idea :  "  This  I  know ;  for  God 
is  for  me."  (s)  Again :  "  In  the  morning  will  I  direct  my 
prayer  unto  thee,  and  will  look  up."  [t)  For  from  these  words 
we  gather,  that  prayers  are  but  empty  sounds,  if  unattended 
by  hope,  from  which,  as  from  a  watch-tower,  we  quietly  look 
out  for  God.  With  which  corresponds  the  order  of  Paul's  ex- 
hortation ;  for  before  exhorting  believers  to  "  pray  always  with 
all  prayer  and  supplication  in  the  Spirit,"  he  first  directs  them 
to  "  take  the  shield  of  faith,  the  helmet  of  salvation,  and  the 
sword  of  the  Spirit,  which  is  the  word  of  God."  {u)  Now,  let 
the  reader  recollect,  what  I  have  before  asserted,  that  faith  is 
not  at  all  weakened  by  being  connected  Avith  an  acknowledg- 
ment of  our  misery,  poverty,  and  impurity.  For  believers  feel 
themselves  oppressed  by  a  grievous  load  of  sins,  while  destitute 
of  every  thing  which  could  conciliate  the  favour  of  God,  and 
burdened  with  much  guilt,  which  might  justly  render  him  an 
object  of  their  dread  ;  yet  they  cease  not  to  present  themselves 
before  him ;  nor  does  this  experience  terrify  them  from  resort- 
ing to  him,  since  there  is  no  other  way  of  access  to  him.  For 
prayer  was  instituted,  not  that  we  might  arrogantly  exalt  our- 
selves in  the  presence  of  God,  or  form  a  high  opinion  of  any 
thing  of  our  owa ;  but  that  we  might  confess  onr  guilt  to  him, 
and  deplore  our  miseries  with  the  familiarity  of  children  con- 
fiding their  complaints  to  their  parents.  The  immense  accu- 
mulation of  our  distresses  should  operate  as  so  many  incite- 
ments to  urge  us  to  pray ;  as  we  are  taught  likewise  by  the 
example  of  the  Psalmist :   "  Heal  my  soul  :  for  I  have  sinned 

{p)  Heb.  iv.  16.  (r)  Psalm  xxxiii.  22.  (<)  Psalm  v.  3. 

(y)   Ephes.  iii.  12.  {s)  Psalm  Ivi.  9.  (m)  Ephes.  vi.  16,  18. 


against  thee."  (v)  I  confess,  indeed,  that  the  operation  of  such 
incentives  would  be  fatal,  were  it  not  for  the  Divine  aid  ;  but 
our  most  benevolent  Father,  in  his  incomparable  mercy,  has 
atlbrded  a  timely  remedy,  that  allaying  all  perturbation,  allevi- 
ating all  cares,  and  dispelling  all  fears,  he  might  gently  allure 
us  to  himself,  and  facilitate  our  approach  to  him,  by  the  removal 
of  every  obstacle  and  every  doubt. 

XIII.  And  in  the  first  place,  when  he  enjoins  us  to  pray, 
the  commandment  itself  implies  a  charge  of  impious  contu- 
macy, if  we  disobey  it.  No  command  can  be  more  precise 
than  that  in  the  psalm  :  "  Call  upon  me  in  the  day  of  trou- 
ble." (?^)  But  as  the  Scripture  recommends  no  one  of  the 
duties  of  piety  more  frequently,  it  is  unnecessary  to  dwell 
any  longer  upon  it.  "Ask,  (says  our  Lord,)  and  it  shall  be 
given  you  ;  knock,  and  it  shall  be  opened  unto  you."  (x)  To 
this  precept,  however,  there  is  also  annexed  a  promise,  which  is 
very  necessary ;  for  though  all  men  acknowledge  obedience  to 
be  due  to  a  precept,  yet  the  greater  part  of  them  would  neglect 
the  calls  of  God,  if  he  did  not  promise  to  be  propitious  to  them, 
and  even  to  advance  to  meet  them.  These  two  positions  being 
proved,  it  is  evident  that  all  those  who  turn  their  backs  on 
God,  or  do  not  directly  approach  him^  are  not  only  guilty  of  dis- 
obedience and  rebellion,  but  also  convicted  of  unbelief;  because 
they  distrust  the  promises  ;  which  is  the  more  worthy  of  ob- 
servation, since  hypocrites,  under  the  pretext  of  humility  and 
modesty,  treat  the  command  of  God  with  such  haughty  con- 
tempt as  to  give  no  credit  to  his  kind  invitation,  and  even 
defraud  him  of  a  principal  part  of  his  worship.  For  after 
having  refused  sacrifices,  in  which  all  holiness  then  appeared 
to  consist,  he  declares  the  principal  and  most  acceptable  part 
of  his  service  to  be,  "calling  upon  him  in  the  day  of  trouble." 
Wherefore,  when  he  requires  what  is  due  to  him,  and  animates 
us  to  a  cheerful  obedience,  there  are  no  pretexts  for  diffidence  or 
hesitation  sufficiently  specious  to  excuse  us.  The  numerous 
texts  of  Scripture,  therefore,  which  enjoin  us  to  call  upon  God, 
are  as  so  many  banners  placed  before  our  eyes  to  inspire  us  with 
confidence.  It  were  temerity  to  rush  into  the  presence  of  God, 
without  a  previous  invitation  from  him.  He  therefore  opens  a 
way  for  us  by  his  own  word:  "  I  will  say.  It  is  my  people; 
and  they  shall  say.  The  Lord  is  my  God."  (y)  We  see  how 
he  leads  his  worshippers,  and  desires  them  to  follow  him  ;  and 
therefore  that  there  is  no  reason  to  fear  lest  the  melody,  which 
he  dictates,  should  not  be  agreeable  to  him.  Let  us  particu- 
larly remember  this  remarkable  character  of  God,  by  a  reliance 
on  which  we  shall  easily  surmount  every  obstacle  :    '  O  thou 

(»)  Psalm  xli.  4.  (w)  Psalm  1.  15.  (x)  Matt.  vii.  7.         (y)  Zech.  xiii.  9. 

92  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

that  hearest  prayer,  unto  thee  shall  all  flesh  come."  (z)  For 
what  is  more  amiable  or  attractive  than  for  God  to  bear  this 
character,  which  assures  us,  that  nothing  is  more  agreeable  to 
his  nature,  than  to  grant  the  requests  of  humble  suppliants  ? 
Hence  the  Psalmist  concludes  that  the  way  is  open,  not  to  a 
few  only,  but  to  all  men  ;  because  he  addresses  all  in  these 
words:  "Call  upon  me  in  the  day  of  trouble:  I  will  deliver 
thee,  and  thou  shall  glorify  me."  (a)  According  to  this  rule, 
David,  in  order  to  obtain  his  request,  pleads  the  promise  that 
had  been  given  him :  "  Thou,  O  Lord,  hast  revealed  to  thy 
servant  — ;  therefore  hath  thy  servant  found  in  his  heart  to 
pray."  (b)  Whence  we  conclude  that  he  would  have  been 
fearful,  had  he  not  been  encouraged  by  the  promise.  So  in 
another  place  he  furnishes  himself  with  this  general  doctrine  : 
"  He  will  fulfil  the  desire  of  them  that  fear  him."  (c)  In  the 
Psalms  we  may  likewise  observe  the  connection  of  prayer  as  it 
were  interrupted,  and  sudden  transitions  made,  sometimes  to 
the  power  of  God,  sometimes  to  his  goodness,  and  sometimes 
to  the  truth  of  his  promises.  It  might  appear  as  though  David 
mutilated  his  prayers  by  an  unseasonable  introduction  of  such 
passages ;  but  believers  know  by  experience,  that  the  ardour 
of  devotion  languishes,  unless  it  be  supported  by  fresh  supplies  ; 
and  therefore  a  meditation  on  the  nature  and  the  word  of  God 
is  far  from  being  useless  in  the  midst  of  our  prayers.  Let  us 
not  hesitate,  then,  to  follow  the  example  of  David  in  the  intro- 
duction of  topics  calculated  to  reanimate  languid  souls  with 
new  vigour. 

XIV.  And  it  is  wonderful  that  we  are  no  more  affected 
with  promises  so  exceedingly  sweet  ;  that  the  generality  of 
men,  wandering  through  a  labyrinth  of  errors,  after  having  for- 
saken the  fountain  of  living  waters,  prefer  hewing  out  for  them- 
selves cisterns  incapable  of  containing  any  water,  to  embracing 
the  free  offers  of  Divine  goodness.  "  The  name  of  the  Lord 
(says  Solomon)  is  a  strong  tower:  the  righteous  runneth  into 
it,  and  is  safe."  (d)  And  Joel,  after  having  predicted  the 
speedy  approach  of  a  dreadful  destruction,  adds  this  memorable 
sentence :  "  Whosoever  shall  call  on  the  name  of  the  Lord, 
shall  be  delivered ;"  (e)  which  we  know  properly  refers  to 
the  course  of  the  gospel.  Scarcely  one  man  in  a  hundred  is 
induced  to  advance  to  meet  the  Lord.  He  proclaims  by  Isaiah, 
"  Before  they  call,  I  will  answer ;  and  while  they  are  yet 
speaking,  I  will  hear."  (/)  And  in  another  place  he  dignifies 
the  whole  Church  in  general  with  the  same  honour ;  as  it  be- 
longs to  all  the  members  of  Christ :   ''  He  shall  call  upon  me, 

(:)  Psalm  Ixv.  2.         (a)  Psalm  1.  15.         (h)  2  Sam.  vii.  27.         (c)  Psalm  cxlv.  19 
(d)  Prov.  xviii.  10.  (c)  Joel  ii.  32.  (/)  Isaiah  Ixv.  24. 


and  I  will  answer  him :  I  will  be  with  him  in  trouble  :  I  will 
deliver  him."  [g]  As  I  have  before  said,  however,  my  design 
is  not  to  enumerate  all  the  texts,  but  to  select  the  most  remark- 
able, from  which  we  may  perceive  the  condescending  kindness 
of  God  in  inviting  us  to  him,  and  the  circumstances  of  ag- 
gravation attending  our  ingratitude,  while  our  indolence  still 
lingers  in  the  midst  of  such  powerful  incitements.  Wherefore 
let  these  Avords  perpetually  resound  in  our  ears  :  "  The  Lord  is 
nigh  unto  all  them  that  call  upon  him,  to  all  that  call  upon  him 
in  truth ;  "  (A)  as  well  as  those  which  we  have  cited  from  Isaiah 
and  Joel ;  in  which  God  affirms,  that  he  is  inclined  to  hear 
prayers,  and  is  delighted,  as  with  a  sacrifice  of  a  sweet  savour, 
when  we  cast  our  cares  upon  him.  We  derive  this  singular 
benefit  from  the  Divine  promises,  when  our  prayers  are  con- 
ceived without  doubt  or  trepidation  ;  but  in  reliance  on  his  word, 
whose  majesty  would  otherwise  terrify  us,  we  venture  to  call 
upon  him  as  our  Father,  because  he  deigns  to  suggest  to  us 
this  most  delightful  appellation.  Favoured  with  such  invita- 
tions, it  remains  for  us  to  know  that  they  furnish  us  with  suffi- 
cient arguments  to  enforce  our  petitions ;  since  om-  prayers 
rest  on  no  intrinsic  merit ;  but  all  their  worthiness,  as  well  as 
all  our  hope  of  obtaining  our  requests,  is  founded  in,  and  de- 
pendent upon,  the  Divine  promises  ;  so  that  there  is  no  need  of 
any  other  support  or  further  anxiety.  Therefore  we  may  be 
fully  assured,  that  though  we  equal  not  the  sanctity  so  cele- 
brated in  holy  patriarchs,  prophets,  and  apostles,  yet,  since  the 
command  to  pray  is  common  to  us  as  well  as  to  them,  and  we 
are  partakers  of  the  same  common  faith,  if  we  rely  on  the  Di- 
vine word,  we  are  associated  with  them  in  this  privilege.  For 
God's  declaration,  (already  noticed,)  that  he  will  be  gentle  and 
merciful  to  all,  gives  all,  even  the  most  miserable,  a  hope  of 
obtaining  the  objects  of  their  supplications ;  and  therefore  we 
should  remark  the  general  forms  of  expression,  by  which  no  man, 
from  the  greatest  to  the  least,  is  excluded  ;  only  let  him  possess 
sincerity  of  heart,  self-abhorrence,  humility,  and  faith  ;  and 
let  not  our  hypocrisy  profane  the  name  of  God  by  a  pretended 
invocation  of  him ;  our  most  merciful  Father  will  not  reject 
those  whom  he  exhorts  to  approach  him,  and  even  urges  by 
every  possible  mode  of  solicitation.  Hence  the  argument  of 
David's  prayer,  just  recited:  "  Thou,  O  Lord,  hast  revealed  to 
thy  servant  — ;  therefore  hath  thy  serv^ant  found  in  his  heart  to 
pray  this  prayer  unto  thee.  And  now,  O  Lord  God,  thou  art 
that  God,  and  thy  words  be  true,  and  thou  hast  promised  this 
goodness  unto  thy  servant :  "  begin  therefore  and  do  it.  {i)  As 
also  in  another  place  :  "  Let  thy  kindness  be  according  to  thy 

ig)  Psalm  xci.  15.  (/i)  Psalm  cxlv.  18.  (e)  2  Sam.  vii.  27,  28. 

34  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

word  unto  thy  servant."  (k)  And  all  the  Israelites  together, 
whenever  they  fortify  themselves  with  a  recollection  of  the  co- 
venant, sufficiently  declare  that  fear  ought  to  be  banished  from 
our  devotions,  because  it  is  contrary  to  the  Divine  injunction  ; 
and  in  this  respect  they  imitated  the  examples  of  the  patriarchs, 
particularly  of  Jacob,  who,  after  having  confessed  himself  "  not 
worthy  of  the  least  of  all  the  mercies  "  he  had  received  from 
the  hand  of  God,  yet  declares  himself  animated  to  pray  for 
still  greater  blessings,  because  God  had  promised  to  grant 
them,  (l)  But  whatever  be  the  pretences  of  unbelievers,  for 
not  applying  to  God  under  the  pressure  of  every  necessity,  for 
not  seeking  him  or  imploring  his  aid,  they  are  equally  charge- 
able with  defrauding  him  of  the  honour  due  to  him,  as  if  they 
had  fabricated  for  themselves  new  gods  and  idols ;  for  by  this 
conduct,  they  deny  him  to  be  the  Author  of  all  their  blessings. 
On  the  contrary,  there  is  nothing  more  efficacious  to  deliver  be- 
lievers from  every  scruple,  than  this  consideration,  that  no  im- 
pediment ought  to  prevent  their  acting  according  to  the  com- 
mand of  God,  who  declares  that  nothing  is  more  agreeable  to 
him  than  obedience.  These  observations  tend  more  fully  to 
elucidate  what  I  have  advanced  before  ;  that  a  spirit  of  bold- 
ness in  prayer  is  perfectly  consistent  with  fear,  reverence,  and 
solicitude  ;  and  that  there  is  no  absurdity  in  God's  exalting  those 
who  are  abased.  This  establishes  an  excellent  agreement  be- 
tween those  apparently  repugnant  forms  of  expression.  Both 
Jeremiah  and  Daniel  use  this  phrase  :  "  Make  prayers  fall  "  be- 
fore God  ;  for  so  it  is  in  the  original,  (m)  Jeremiah  also  :  "  Let 
our  supplication  fall  before  thee."  (w)  Again:  believers  are 
frequently  said  to  "  lift  up  their  prayer."  (o)  So  says  Hezekiah, 
when  requesting  the  prophet  to  intercede  for  him.  And  David 
desires  that  his  prayer  may  ascend  "as  incense."  (jo)  For 
though,  under  a  persuasion  of  God's  fatherly  love,  they  cheer- 
fully commit  themselves  to  his  faithfulness,  and  hesitate  not  to 
implore  the  assistance  he  freely  promises,  yet  they  are  not  im- 
pudently elated  with  careless  security,  but  ascend  upwards  by 
the  steps  of  the  promises,  yet  in  such  a  manner,  that  they  still 
continue  to  be  suppliant  and  self-abased. 

XV,  Here  several  questions  are  started.  The  Scripture  re- 
lates that  the  Lord  has  complied  with  some  prayers,  which 
nevertheless  did  not  arise  from  a  calm  or  well-regulated  heart. 
Jotham,  for  a  just  cause  indeed,  but  from  the  impulse  of  rage, 
resentment,  and  revenge,  devoted  the  inhabitants  of  Shechem  to 
the  destruction  which  afterwards  fell  upon  them:  (q)  the  Lord, 
by  fulfilling  this  curse,  seems  to  approve  of  such  disorderly 

r/i)  Psalm  cxix.  7G.  (/)  Gen.  xxxii.  10,  &c.  (m)  Jer.  xlii.  9.     Dan.  ix.  18. 

^)  Jer.  xlii.  2.         (o)  2  Kings  xix.  4.         (p)  Psalm  cxli.  2.         (y)  Judges  ix.  20. 


sallies  of  passion.  Samson  also  was  hurried  away  by  similar 
fervour  when  he  said,  "  O  Lord,  strengthen  me,  that  I  may  be 
avenged  of  the  Philistines."  (r)  For  though  there  was  some 
mixture  of  honest  zeal,  yet  it  was  a  violent,  and  therefore  sin- 
ful, avidity  of  revenge  which  predominated.  God  granted  the 
request.  Whence  it  seems  deducible,  that  prayers  not  con- 
formable to  the  rules  of  the  Divine  word,  are  nevertheless  effi- 
cacious. I  reply,  first,  that  a  permanent  rule  is  not  annulled  by 
particular  examples ;  secondly,  that  peculiar  emotions  have 
sometimes  been  excited  in  a  few  individuals,  causing  a  distinc- 
tion between  them  and  men  in  general.  For  the  answer  of 
Christ  to  his  disciples,  who  inconsiderately  wished  to  emulate 
the  example  of  Elias,  "  that  they  knew  not  what  spirit  they 
were  of,"  is  worthy  of  observation.  But  we  must  remark, 
further,  that  God  is  not  always  pleased  with  the  prayers  which 
he  grants ;  but  that,  as  far  as  examples  are  concerned,  there  are 
undeniable  evidences  of  the  Scripture  doctrine,  that  he  suc- 
cours the  miserable,  and  hears  the  groans  of  those  who  under 
the  pressure  of  injustice  implore  his  aid  ;  that  he  therefore 
executes  his  judgments,  when  the  complaints  of  the  poor  arise 
to  him,  though  they  are  unworthy  of  the  least  favourable  atten- 
tion. For  how  often,  by  punishing  the  cruelty,  rapine,  vio- 
lence, lust,  and  other  crimes  of  the  impious,  by  restraining 
their  audacity  and  fury,  and  even  subverting  their  tyrannical 
power,  has  he  manifestly  assisted  the  victims  of  unrighteous 
oppression,  though  they  have  been  beating  the  air  with  suppli- 
cations to  an  unknown  God  !  And  one  of  the  Psalmists  clearly 
teaches  that  some  prayers  are  not  ineffectual,  which  neverthe- 
less do  not  penetrate  into  heaven  by  faith,  (s)  For  he  collects 
those  prayers  which  necessity  naturally  extorts  from  unbeliev- 
ers as  well  as  from  believers,  but  to  which  the  event  shows 
God  to  be  propitious.  Does  he  by  such  condescension  testify 
that  they  are  acceptable  to  him  ?  No ;  he  designs  to  amplify 
or  illustrate  his  mercy  by  this  circumstance,  that  even  the 
requests  of  unbelievers  are  not  refused  ;  and  likewise  to  stimu- 
late his  true  worshippers  to  greater  diligence  in  prayer,  while 
they  see  that  even  the  lamentations  of  the  profane  are  not  un- 
attended with  advantage.  Yet  there  is  no  reason  why  believers 
should  deviate  from  the  rule  given  them  by  God,  or  envy  un- 
believers, as  though  they  had  made  some  great  acquisition  when 
they  have  obtained  the  object  of  their  wishes.  In  this  manner 
we  have  said  that  the  Lord  was  moved  by  the  hypocritical 
penitence  of  Ahab,  in  order  to  prove  by  this  example  how 
ready  he  is  to  grant  the  prayers  of  his  own  elect,  when  they 
seek  reconciliation  with  him  by  true  conversion.    Therefore  in 

(r)  Judges  ivi.  28.  (5)  Psalm  cvu. 

96  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

the  Psalms  he  expostulates  with  the  Jews,  because,  after  having 
experienced  his  propitiousness  to  their  prayers,  they  had  almost 
immediately  returned  to  their  native  perverseness.  (t)  It  is 
evident,  also,  from  the  history  of  the  Judges,  that  whenever 
they  wept,  though  their  tears  were  hypocritical,  yet  they  were 
delivered  from  the  hands  of  their  enemies.  As  the  Lord,  there- 
fore, "maketh  his  sun  to  rise  on  the  evil  and  on  the  good,"  (n) 
promiscuously,  so  he  despises  not  the  lamentations  of  those 
whose  cause  is  just,  and  whose  afflictions  deserve  relief.  At 
the  same  time  his  attention  to  them  is  no  more  connected  with 
salvation,  than  his  furnishing  food  to  the  despisers  of  his  good- 
ness. The  question  relative  to  Abraham  and  Samuel  is  attend- 
ed with  more  difliculty ;  the  former  of  whom  prayed  for  the 
inhabitants  of  Sodom  without  any  Divine  direction,  and  the 
latter  for  Saul  even  contrary  to  a  plain  prohibition,  (v)  Tlie 
same  is  the  case  of  Jeremiah,  who  deprecated  the  destruction 
of  the  city,  (lo)  For  though  they  suffered  a  repulse,  yet  it 
seems  harsh  to  deny  them  to  have  been  under  the  influence  of 
faith.  But  the  modest  reader  will,  I  hope,  be  satisfied  with 
this  solution  ;  that  mindful  of  the  general  principles  by  which 
God  enjoins  them  to  be  merciful  even  to  the  unworthy,  they 
were  not  entirely  destitute  of  faith,  though  in  a  particular  in- 
stance their  opinion  may  have  disappointed  them.  Augustine 
has  somewhere  this  judicious  observation  :  "  How  do  the  saints 
pray  in  faith,  when  they  implore  of  God  that  which  is  contrary 
to  his  decrees  ?  It  is  because  they  pray  according  to  his  will,  not 
that  hidden  and  immutable  will,  but  that  with  which  he  inspires 
them,  that  he  may  hear  them  in  a  different  way,  as  he  wisely 
discriminates."  This  is  an  excellent  remark  ;  because,  accord- 
ing to  his  incomprehensible  designs,  he  so  regulates  the  events  of 
things,  that  the  prayers  of  the  saints,  which  contain  a  mixture 
of  faith  and  error,  are  not  in  vain.  Yet  this  no  more  affords 
an  example  for  imitation,  than  a  sufficient  plea  to  excuse  the 
saints  themselves,  whom  I  admit  to  have  transgressed  the 
bounds  of  duty.  Wherefore,  when  no  certain  promise  can  be 
found,  we  should  present  our  supplications  to  God  in  a  condi- 
tional way ;  which  is  implied  in  this  petition  of  David : 
"  Awake  to  the  judgment  that  thou  hast  commanded ;  "  (.v) 
because  he  suggests  that  he  was  directed  by  a  particular  revela- 
tion to  pray  for  a  temporal  blessing. 

XVI.  It  will  also  be  of  use  to  remark,  that  the  things  I  have 
delivered  concerning  the  four  rules  for  praying  aright,  are  not 
required  by  God  with  such  extreme  rigour  as  to  cause  the  re- 
jection of  all  prayers,  in  which  he  does  not  find  a  perfection  of 

(t)  Psalm  cvi.  39.         (u)  Matt.  v.  45.         (v)  Gen.  xviii.  23.     1  Sam.  xv.  11. 
(w)  Jer.  xxxii.  Il5,  »fcc.  (x)  Psalm  vii.  (i. 


faith  or  repentance,  united  with  ardent  zeal  and  well-regulated 
desires.  We  have  said,  that  although  prayer  is  a  familiar 
intercourse  between  God  and  pious  men,  yet  reverence  and 
modesty  must  be  preserved,  that  we  may  not  give  a  loose  to 
all  our  wishes,  nor  even  in  our  desires  exceed  the  Divine  per- 
mission ;  and  to  prevent  the  majesty  of  God  being  lessened  in 
our  view,  our  minds  must  be  raised  to  a  pure  and  holy  venera- 
tion of  him.  This  no  man  has  ever  performed  with  the  purity 
required  ;  for,  to  say  nothing  of  the  multitude,  how  many  com- 
plaints of  David  savour  of  intemperance  of  spirit  !  not  that  he 
would  designedly  remonstrate  with  God,  or  murmur  at  his 
judgments  ;  but  he  faints  in  consequence  of  his  infirmity,  and 
finds  no  better  consolation  than  to  pour  his  sorrows  into  the 
Divine  bosom.  Moreover,  God  bears  with  our  lisping,  and 
pardons  our  ignorance,  whenever  any  inconsiderate  expressions 
escape  us  ;  and  certainly  without  this  indulgence  there  could 
be  no  freedom  of  prayer.  But  though  it  was  David's  intention 
to  submit  himself  wholly  to  the  Divine  will,  and  his  patience 
in  prayer  was  equal  to  his  desire  of  obtaining  his  requests,  yet 
we  sometimes  perceive  the  appearance  and  ebullition  of  turbu- 
lent passions,  very  inconsistent  with  the  first  rule  we  have  laid 
down.  We  may  discover,  particularly  from  the  conclusion  of 
the  thirty-ninth  psalm,  with  what  vehemence  of  grief  this  holy 
man  was  hurried  away  beyond  all  the  bounds  of  propriety. 
"  O  spare  me  (says  he)  before  I  go  hence,  and  be  no  more."  (y) 
One  might  be  ready  to  say,  that  the  man,  being  in  despair, 
desires  nothing  but  the  removal  of  God's  hand,  that  he  may 
putrefy  in  his  own  iniquities  and  miseries.  He  does  not  intend 
to  rush  into  intemperance  of  language,  or,  as  is  usual  with  the 
reprobate,  desire  God  to  depart  from  him  ;  he  only  complains 
that  he  cannot  bear  the  Divine  wrath.  In  these  temptations, 
also,  the  saints  often  drop  petitions,  not  sufficiently  conformable 
to  the  rule  of  God's  word,  and  without  due  reflection  on  what 
is  right  and  proper.  All  prayers  polluted  with  these  blemishes 
deserve  to  be  rejected  ;  yet  if  the  saints  mourn,  correct  them- 
selves, and  return  to  themselves  again,  God  forgives  them.  Thus 
they  off"end  likewise  agcdnst  the  second  rule  ;  because  they  fre- 
quently have  to  contend  with  their  own  indifference  ;  nor  do 
their  poverty  and  misery  sufficiently  incite  them  to  seriousness 
of  devotion.  Now,  their  minds  frequently  wander,  and  are  almost 
absorbed  in  vanity  ;  and  they  also  need  pardon  in  this  respect,  lest 
languid,  or  mutilated,  or  interrupted  and  desultory  prayers  should 
meet  with  a  repulse.  God  has  naturally  impressed  the  minds 
of  men  with  a  conviction  that  prayers  require  to  be  attended 
with  an  elevation  of  heart.     Hence  the  ceremony  of  elevating 

(y)  Psalm  xxxix.  13. 

VOL.  n.  13 

98  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

the  hands,  as  before  observed,  which  has  been  common  in  all 
ages  and  nations,  and  still  continues  ;  but  where  is  the  person, 
who,  while  lifting  up  the  hands,  is  not  conscious  of  dulness, 
because  his  heart  cleaves  to  the  earth  ?  As  to  praying  for  the 
remission  of  sins,  though  none  of  the  faithful  omit  this  article, 
yet  they  who  have  been  truly  engaged  in  prayers,  perceive 
that  they  scarcely  offer  the  tenth  part  of  the  sacrifices  men- 
tioned by  David :  "  The  sacrifices  of  God  are  a  broken  spirit ; 
a  broken  and  a  contrite  heart,  O  God,  thou  wilt  not  despise."  (z) 
Thus  they  have  always  to  pray  for  a  twofold  forgiveness  ;  both 
because  they  are  conscious  of  many  transgressions,  with  which 
they  are  not  so  deeply  affected  as  to  be  sufficiently  displeased 
with  themselves,  and  as  they  are  enabled  to  advance  in  repent- 
ance and  the  fear  of  God,  humbled  with  just  sorrow  for  their 
offences,  they  deprecate  the  vengeance  of  the  Judge.  But 
above  all,  the  weakness  or  imperfection  of  their  faith  would 
vitiate  the  prayers  of  believers,  were  it  not  for  the  Divine  indul- 
gence ;  but  we  need  not  wonder  that  this  defect  is  forgiven  by 
God,  who  frequently  exercises  his  children  with  severe  disci- 
pline, as  if  he  fully  designed  to  annihilate  their  faith.  It  is  a 
very  sharp  temptation,  when  believers  are  constrained  to  cry, 
"  How  long  wilt  thou  be  angry  against  the  prayer  of  thy  peo- 
ple ?  "  (a)  as  though  even  their  prayers  were  so  many  provoca- 
tions of  Divine  wrath.  So  when  Jeremiah  says,  "  God  shutteth 
out  my  prayer,"  (b)  he  was  undoubtedly  agitated  with  severe 
trouble.  Innumerable  examples  of  this  kind  occur  in  the 
Scriptures,  from  which  it  appears  that  the  faith  of  the  saints  is 
often  mingled  and  agitated  with  doubts,  so  that  amidst  the 
exercises  of  faith  and  hope,  they  nevertheless  betray  some  re- 
mains of  unbelief;  but  since  they  cannot  attain  all  that  is  to  be 
wished,  it  becomes  them  to  be  increasingly  diligent,  in  order  that, 
correcting  their  faults,  they  may  daily  make  nearer  approaches 
to  the  perfect  rule  of  prayer,  and  at  the  same  time  to  consider  into 
what  an  abyss  of  evils  they  must  have  been  plunged,  who  even 
in  their  very  remedies  contract  new  diseases  ;  since  there  is  no 
prayer  which  God  would  not  justly  disdain,  if  he  did  not  overlook 
the  blemishes  with  which  they  are  all  deformed.  I  mention 
these  things,  not  that  believers  may  securely  forgive  themselves 
any  thing  sinful,  but  that,  by  severely  correcting  themselves, 
they  may  strive  to  surmount  these  obstacles  ;  and  that,  notwith- 
standing the  endeavours  of  Satan  to  obstruct  them  in  all  their 
ways,  with  a  view  to  prevent  them  from  praying,  they  may 
nevertheless  break  through  all  opposition,  certainly  persuaded, 
that,  though  they  experience  many  impediments,  yet  God  is 
pleased  with  their  efforts,  and  approves  of  their  prayers,  pro- 

(z)  Psalm  li.  17.  "    (a)  Psalm  Ixxx.  4.  (h)  Lam.  iii.  8. 


vided  they  strenuously  aim  at  that  which  they  do  not  immedi- 
ately attain. 

XVII.  But  since  there  is  no  one  of  the  human  race  worthy 
to  present  himself  to  God,  and  to  enter  into  his  presence,  our 
heavenly  Father  himself,  to  deliver  us  at  once  from  shame  and 
fear,  which  might  justly  depress  all  our  minds,  has  given  us 
his  Son  Jesus  Christ  our  liOrd  to  be  our  Advocate  and  Mediator 
with  him  ;  (c)  introduced  by  whom  we  may  boldly  approach 
him,  confident,  with  such  an  Intercessor,  that  nothing  we  ask 
in  his  name  will  be  denied  us,  as  nothing  can  be  denied  to  him 
by  his  Father.  And  to  this  must  be  referred  all  that  we  have 
hitherto  advanced  concerning  faith  ;  because,  as  the  promise 
recommends  Christ  to  us  as  the  Mediator,  so,  unless  our  hope 
of  success  depend  on  him,  it  deprives  itself  of  all  the  benefit 
of  prayer.  For  as  soon  as  we  reflect  on  the  terrible  majesty  of 
God,  we  cannot  but  be  exceedingly  afraid,  and  driven  away 
from  him  by  a  consciousness  of  our  unworthiness,  till  we  dis- 
cover Christ  as  the  Mediator,  who  changes  the  throne  of  dread- 
ful glory  into  a  throne  of  grace ;  as  the  apostle  also  exhorts  us 
to  "  come  boldly  unto  the  throne  of  grace,  that  we  may  obtain 
mercy,  and  find  grace  to  help  in  time  of  need."  (d)  And  as 
there  is  a  rule  given  for  calling  upon  God,  as  well  as  a  promise 
that  they  shall  be  heard  who  call  upon  him,  so  we  are  par- 
ticularly enjoined  to  invoke  him  in  the  name  of  Christ ;  and 
we  have  an  express  promise,  that  what  we  ask  in  his  name  we 
shall  obtain.  "Hitherto  (says  he)  ye  have  asked  nothing  in 
my  name  :  ask,  and  ye  shall  receive.  At  that  day  ye  shall  ask 
in  my  name  ;  and  whatsoever  ye  shall  ask  in  my  name,  that 
will  I  do,  that  the  Father  may  be  glorified  in  the  Son."  (e) 
Hence  it  is  plain  beyond  all  controversy,  that  they  who  call 
upon  God  in  any  other  name  than  that  of  Christ,  are  guilty  of 
a  contumacious  neglect  of  his  precepts,  and  a  total  disregard 
of  his  will  ;  and  that  they  have  no  promise  of  any  success. 
For,  as  Paul  says  of  Christ,  "All  the  promises  of  God  in  him 
are  yea,  and  in  him  amen  ;  "  that  is,  are  confirmed  and  ful- 
filled. (/) 

XVIII.  And  we  must  carefully  remark  the  circumstance  of 
the  time  when  Christ  commands  his  disciples  to  apply  to  his 
intercession,  Avhich  was  to  be  after  his  ascension  to  heaven  ; 
"At  that  day  (says  he)  ye  shall  ask  in  my  name."  It  is  cer- 
tain that  from  the  beginning  no  prayers  had  been  heard  but  for 
the  sake  of  the  Mediator.  For  this  reason  the  Lord  had  ap- 
pointed in  the  law,  that  the  priest  alone  should  enter  the  sanc- 
tuary, bearing  on  his  shoulders  the  names  of  the  tribes  of  Israel 

(c)  1  Tim.  ii.  5.     1  John  ii.  1.  (e)  John  xvi.  94,  26 ;  xiv.  13. 

(d)  Heb.  iv.  16.  (/)  2  Cor.  i.  20. 

iOO  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    Hi. 

and  the  same  number  of  precious  stones  before  his  breast ;  but 
that  the  people  should  stand  without  in  the  court,  and  there 
unite  their  prayers  with  those  of  the  priest,  (g)  The  use  of 
the  sacrifice  was  to  render  their  prayers  effectual.  The  mean- 
ing, therefore,  of  that  shadowy  ceremony  of  the  law  was,  that 
we  are  all  banished  from  the  presence  of  God,  and  therefore 
need  a  mediator  to  appear  in  our  name,  to  bear  us  on  his 
shoulders,  and  bind  us  to  his  breast,  that  we  may  be  heard  in 
his  person  ;  and,  moreover,  that  the  sprinkling  of  his  blood 
purifies  our  prayers,  which  have  been  asserted  to  be  otherwise 
never  free  from  defilement.  And  we  see  that  the  saints,  when 
they  wished  to  obtain  any  thing  by  prayer,  founded  their  hope 
on  the  sacrifices  ;  because  they  knew  them  to  be  the  confirma- 
tions of  all  their  prayers.  David  says,  "  The  Lord  remember 
all  thy  offerings,  and  accept  thy  burnt-sacrifice."  (h)  Hence 
we  conclude,  that  God  has  from  the  beginning  been  appeased 
by  the  intercession  of  Christ,  so  as  to  accept  the  devotions  of 
believers.  Why,  then,  does  Christ  assign  a  new  period,  when 
his  disciples  shall  begin  to  pray  in  his  name,  but  because  this 
grace,  being  now  become  more  illustrious,  deserves  to  be  more 
strongly  recommended  to  us  ?  In  this  same  sense  he  had  just 
before  said,  "  Hitherto  ye  have  asked  nothing  in  my  name ; 
ask."  (i)  Not  that  they  were  totally  unacquainted  with  the 
office  of  the  Mediator,  (since  all  the  Jews  were  instructed  in 
these  first  principles,)  but  because  they  did  not  yet  clearly 
understand  that  Christ,  on  his  ascension  to  heaven,  would  be 
more  evidently  the  advocate  of  the  Church  than  he  was  before. 
Therefore,  to  console  their  sorrow  for  his  absence  with  some 
signal  advantage,  he  claims  the  character  of  an  advocate,  and 
teaches  them  that  they  have  hitherto  wanted  the  principal 
benefit,  which  it  shall  be  given  them  to  enjoy,  when  they 
shall  call  upon  God  with  greater  freedom  in  a  reliance  on  his 
intercession  ;  as  the  apostle  says  that  this  new  way  is  con- 
secrated by  his  blood,  (k)  So  much  the  more  inexcusable  is 
our  perverseness,  unless  we  embrace  with  the  greatest  alacrity 
such  an  inestimable  benefit,  which  is  particularly  destined 
for  us. 

XIX.  Moreover,  since  he  is  the  only  way  of  access  by 
which  we  are  permitted  to  approach  God,  to  them  who  deviate 
from  this  road,  and  desert  this  entrance,  there  remains  no  othei 
way  of  access  to  God,  nor  any  thing  on  his  throne  but  wrath, 
judgment,  and  terror.  Finally,  since  the  Father  has  appoint- 
ed him  to  be  our  Head  and  Leader,  they  who  in  any  respect 
decline  or  turn  aside  from  him,  endeavour,  as  far  as  they  can, 
to  deface  and  obliterate  a  character  impressed  by  God.     Thus 

(£•)  Exod.  xxviii.        (A)  Psalm  xx.  3.        (i)  John  xvi.  24.        {k)  Heb.  x.  20. 


Christ  is  appointed  as  the  one  Mediator,  by  whose  intercession 
the  Father  is  rendered  propitious  and  favourable  to  us.  The 
saints  have  Ukewise  their  intercessions,  in  which  they  mutually 
commend  each  other's  interests  to  God,  and  which  are  men- 
tioned by  the  apostle  ;  [1)  but  these  are  so  far  from  detracting 
any  thing  from  the  intercession  of  Christ,  that  they  are  entire- 
ly dependent  on  it.  For  as  they  arise  from  the  affection  of 
love,  reciprocally  felt  by  us  towards  each  other  as  members  of 
one  body,  so  likewise  they  are  referred  to  the  unity  of  the 
Head.  Being  made  also  in  the  name  of  Christ,  what  are  they 
but  a  declaration,  that  no  man  can  be  benefited  by  any  prayers 
at  all,  independently  of  Christ's  intercession  ?  And  as  the  in- 
tercession of  Christ  is  no  objection  to  our  mutually  pleading 
for  each  other,  in  our  prayers  in  the  Church,  so  let  it  be  con- 
sidered as  a  certain  maxim,  that  all  the  intercessions  of  the 
whole  Church  should  be  directed  to  that  principal  one.  We 
ought  to  beware  of  ingratitude  particularly  on  this  head,  be- 
cause God,  pardoning  our  un worthiness,  not  only  permits  us 
to  pray  each  one  for  himself,  but  even  admits  us  as  intercessors 
for  one  another.  For,  when  those  who  richly  deserve  to  be 
rejected,  if  they  should  privately  pray  each  for  himself^  are  ap- 
pointed by  God  as  advocates  of  his  Church,  what  pride  would 
it  betray  to  abuse  this  liberality  to  obscure  the  honour  of 
Christ ! 

XX.  Now,  the  cavil  of  the  sophists  is  quite  frivolous,  that 
Christ  is  the  Mediator  of  redemption,  but  believers  of  interces- 
sion ;  as  if  Christ,  after  performing  a  temporary  mediation,  had 
left  to  his  servants  that  which  is  eternal  and  shall  never  die. 
They  who  detract  so  diminutive  a  portion  of  honour  from  him, 
treat  him,  doubtless,  very  favourably.  But  the  Scripture,  with 
the  simplicity  of  which  a  pious  man,  forsaking  these  impostors, 
ought  to  be  contented,  speaks  very  differently  ;  for  when  John 
says,  "  If  any  man  sin,  we  have  an  Advocate  with  the  Father, 
Jesus  Christ,"  (m)  does  he  only  mean  that  he  has  been  here- 
tofore an  Advocate  for  us,  or  does  he  not  rather  ascribe  to  him 
a  perpetual  intercession  ?  What  is  intended  by  the  assertion 
of  Paul,  that  he  "  is  even  at  the  right  hand  of  God,  and  also 
maketh  intercession  for  us?"(?i)  And  when  he  elsewhere 
calls  him  the  "  one  Mediator  between  God  and  man,"  does  he 
not  refer  to  prayers,  which  he  has  mentioned  just  before  ?  "  (o) 
For  having  first  asserted  that  intercessions  should  be  made  for 
all  men,  he  immediately  adds,  in  confirmation  of  that  idea, 
that  all  have  one  God  and  one  Mediator.  Consistent  with 
which  is  the  explanation  of  Augustine,  when  he  thus  expresses 

(I)     Ephes.  vi.  18,  19.     1  Tim.  ii.  1.  (n)  Rom.  viii.  34. 

{m)  1  John  ii.  1.  («)  1  Tim.  ii.  5. 

102  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    111. 

himself :  "  Christian  men  in  their  prayers  mutually  recommend 
each  other  to  the  Divine  regard.  That  person,  for  whom  no 
one  intercedes,  while  he  intercedes  for  all,  is  the  true  and  only  Me- 
diator. The  apostle  Paul,  though  a  principal  member  under  the 
Head,  yet  because  he  was  a  member  of  the  body  of  Christ,  and 
knew  the  great  and  true  High  Priest  of  the  Church  had  entered, 
not  typically,  into  the  recesses  within  the  veil,  the  holy  of  holies, 
but  truly  and  really  into  the  interior  recesses  of  heaven,  into  a 
sanctuary  not  emblematical,  but  eternal, — Paul,  I  say,  recom- 
mends himself  to  the  prayers  of  believers.  Neither  does  he 
make  himself  a  mediator  between  God  and  the  people,  but  ex- 
horts all  the  members  of  the  body  of  Christ  mutually  to  pray  for 
one  another;  since  the  members  have  a  mutual  solicitude  for 
each  other  ;  and  if  one  member  suffers,  the  rest  sympathize  with 
it.  And  so  should  the  mutual  prayers  of  all  the  members,  who 
are  still  engaged  in  the  labours  of  the  present  state,  ascend  on 
each  other's  behalf  to  the  Head,  who  is  gone  before  them  into 
heaven,  and  who  is  the  propitiation  for  our  sins.  For  if  Paul 
were  a  mediator,  the  other  apostles  would  likewise  sustain  the 
same  character ;  and  so  there  would  be  many  mediators  ;  and 
Paul's  argument  could  not  be  supported,  when  he  says,  '  For 
there  is  one  God,  and  one  Mediator  between  God  and  men,  the 
man  Christ  Jesus ;  in  whom  we  also  are  one,  if  we  keep  the 
unity  of  the  Spirit  in  the  bond  of  peace.'  "  Again,  in  another 
place  :  "  But  if  you  seek  a  priest,  he  is  above  the  heavens,  where 
he  now  intercedes  for  you,  who  died  for  you  on  earth."  Yet 
we  do  not  dream  that  he  intercedes  for  us  in  suppliant  prostra- 
tion at  the  Father's  feet ;  but  we  apprehend,  with  the  apostle, 
that  he  appears  in  the  presence  of  God  for  us  in  such  a  manner, 
that  the  virtue  of  his  death  avails  as  a  perpetual  intercession 
for  us  ;  yet  so  as  that,  being  entered  into  the  heavenly  sanctuary, 
he  continually,  till  the  consummation  of  all  things,  presents  to 
God  the  prayers  of  his  people,  who  remain,  as  it  were,  at  a  dis- 
tance in  the  court. 

XXI.  With  respect  to  the  saints  who  are  dead  in  the  flesh, 
but  live  in  Christ,  if  we  attribute  any  intercession  to  them,  let 
us  not  imagine  that  they  have  any  other  way  of  praying  to  God 
than  by  Christ,  who  is  the  only  way,  or  that  their  prayers  are 
accepted  by  God  in  any  other  name.  Therefore,  since  the  Scrip- 
ture calls  us  away  from  all  others  to  Christ  alone,  —  since  it  is 
the  will  of  our  heavenly  Father  to  gather  together  all  things  in 
him,  —  it  would  be  a  proof  of  great  stupidity,  not  to  say  insanity, 
to  be  so  desirous  of  procuring  an  admission  by  the  saints,  as  to 
Ire  seduced  from  him,  without  whom  they  have  no  access  them- 
selves. But  that  this  has  been  practised  in  some  ages,  and  is 
now  practised  wherever  Popery  prevails,  who  can  deny  ?  Their 
merits  are  frequently  obtruded  to  conciliate  the  Divine  favour ; 


and  in  general  Christ  is  totally  neglected,  and  God  is  addressed 
through  their  names.  Is  not  this  transferring  to  them  that 
oflice  of  exclusive  intercession,  which  we  have  before  asserted 
to  be  peculiar  to  Christ  ?  Again,  who,  either  angel  or  demon, 
ever  uttered  to  any  of  the  human  race  a  syllable  concerning 
such  an  intercession  as  they  pretend  ?  for  the  Scripture  is 
perfectly  silent  respecting  any  such  thing.  What  reason,  then, 
was  there  for  its  invention  ?  Certainly,  when  the  human  mind 
thus  seeks  assistances  for  itself,  in  which  it  is  not  warranted 
by  the  word  of  God,  it  evidently  betrays  its  want  of  faith. 
Now,  if  we  appeal  to  the  consciences  of  all  the  advocates  for  the 
intercession  of  saints,  we  shall  find  that  the  only  cause  of  it  is, 
an  anxiety  in  their  minds,  as  if  Christ  could  fail  of  success,  or 
be  too  severe  in  this  business.  By  which  perplexity  they,  m 
the  first  place,  dishonour  Christ,  and  rob  him  of  the  character 
of  the  only  Mediator,  which,  as  it  has  been  given  by  the  Father 
as  his  peculiar  prerogative,  ought  therefore  not  to  be  trans- 
ferred to  any  other.  And  by  this  very  conduct  they  obscure 
the  glory  of  his  nativity,  and  frustrate  the  benefit  of  his  cross  ; 
in  a  word,  they  divest  and  defraud  him  of  the  praise  which  is 
due  to  him  for  all  his  actions  and  all  his  sulferings  ;  since  the 
end  of  them  all  is,  that  he  may  really  be,  and  be  accounted, 
the  sole  Mediator.  They  at  the  same  time  reject  the  goodness 
of  God,  who  exhibits  himself  as  their  Father ;  for  he  is  not  a 
father  to  them,  unless  they  acknowledge  Christ  as  their  brother. 
Which  they  plainly  deny,  unless  they  believe  themselves  to  be 
the  objects  of  his  fraternal  affection,  than  which  nothing  can  be 
more  mild  or  tender.  Wherefore  the  Scripture  offers  him  alone 
to  us,  sends  us  to  him,  and  fixes  us  in  him.  "  He,"  says  Am- 
brose, "  is  our  mouth,  with  which  we  address  the  Father  ;  our 
eye,  by  which  we  behold  the  Father  ;  our  right  hand,  by  which 
we  present  ourselves  to  the  Father.  Without  whose  mediation, 
neither  we,  nor  any  of  all  the  saints,  have  the  least  intercourse 
with  God."  If  they  reply,  that  the  public  prayers  in  the 
chiu:ches  are  finished  by  this  conclusion,  "  through  Christ  oui 
Lord,"  it  is  a  frivolous  subterfuge  ;  because  the  intercession  ot 
Christ  is  not  less  profaned  when  it  is  confounded  with  the 
prayers  and  merits  of  the  dead,  than  if  it  were  wholly  omitted, 
and  the  dead  alone  mentioned.  Besides,  in  all  their  litanies, 
both  verse  and  prose,  where  every  honour  is  ascribed  to  dead 
saints,  there  is  no  mention  of  Christ. 

XXII.  But  their  folly  rises  to  such  a  pitch,  that  we  have 
here  a  striking  view  of  the  genius  of  superstition,  which,  when 
It  has  once  shaken  off  the  reins,  places  in  general  no  limits  to 
i'ts  excursions.  For  after  men  had  begun  to  regard  the  inter- 
cession of  saints,  they  by  degrees  gave  to  each  his  particular 
attributes,  so  that  sometimes  one,  sometimes  another,  might  be 

t04  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

invoked  as  intercessor,  according  to  the  difference  of  the  cases ; 
then  they  chose  each  his  particular  sanit,  to  whose  protection 
they  committed  themselves  as  to  the  care  of  tutelary  gods. 
Thus  they  not  only  set  up  (as  the  prophet  anciently  accused 
Israel)  gods  according  to  the  number  of  their  cities,  (k)  but  even 
according  to  the  multitude  of  persons.  But,  since  the  saints 
refer  all  their  desires  solely  to  the  will  of  God,  and  observe  it, 
and  acquiesce  in  it,  he  must  entertain  foolish  and  carnal,  and 
even  degrading  thoughts  of  them,  who  ascribes  to  them  any 
other  prayer,  than  that  in  which  they  pray  for  the  advent  of  the 
kingdom  of  God  ;  very  remote  from  which  is  what  they  pretend 
concerning  them  —  that  every  one  of  them  is  disposed  by  a 
private  affection  more  particularly  to  regard  his  own  worship- 
pers. At  length  multitudes  fell  even  into  horrid  sacrilege, 
by  invoking  them,  not  as  subordinate  promoters,  but  as  prin- 
cipal agents,  in  their  salvation.  See  how  low  wretched  mortals 
fall,  when  they  wander  from  their  lawful  station,  the  word  of 
God.  I  omit  the  grosser  monstrosities  of  impiety,  for  which, 
though  they  render  them  detestable  to  God,  angels,  and  men, 
they  do  not  yet  feel  either  shame  or  grief.  Prostrate  before  the 
statue  or  picture  of  Barbara,  Catharine,  and  others,  they  mutter 
Pater  Nosier,  "  Our  Father."  This  madness  the  pastors  are 
so  far  from  endeavouring  to  remedy  or  to  restrain,  that,  allured 
by  the  charms  of  lucre,  they  approve  and  applaud  it.  But 
though  they  attempt  to  remove  from  themselves  the  odium  of 
so  foul  a  crime,  yet  what  plea  will  they  urge  in  defence  of 
this,  that  Eligius  and  Medardus  are  supplicated  to  look  down 
from  heaven  on  their  servants,  and  to  assist  them  ?  and  the 
holy  Virgin  to  command  her  Son  to  grant  their  petitions  ?  It  was 
anciently  forbidden  at  the  Council  of  Carthage,  that  at  the  altar 
any  prayers  should  be  made  directly  to  the  saints ;  and  it  is 
probable  that,  when  those  holy  men  could  not  wholly  subdue 
the  force  of  depraved  custom,  they  imposed  this  restraint,  that 
the  public  prayers  might  not  be  deformed  by  this  phrase, 
"  Saint  Peter,  pray  for  us."  But  to  how  much  greater  lengths 
of  diabolical  absurdity  have  they  proceeded,  who  hesitate  not 
to  transfer  to  dead  men  what  exclusively  belongs  to  God  and 
Christ ! 

XXIII.  But  when  they  attempt  to  make  this  intercession 
appear  to  be  founded  on  the  authority  of  Scripture,  they  labour 
in  vain.  We  frequently  read,  they  say,  of  the  prayers  of 
angels ;  and  not  only  so,  but  the  prayers  of  believers  are  said 
to  be  carried  by  their  hands  into  the  presence  of  God.  But  if 
they  would  compare  saints  deceased  to  angels,  they  ought  to 
prove  that  they  are  the  ministering  spirits  who  are  delegated 

(k)  Jer.  ii.  28;  xi.  13. 


to  superintend  the  concerns  of  our  salvation,  whose  province  it 
is  to  keep  us  in  all  our  ways,  who  surround  us,  who  ad- 
vise and  comfort  us,  who  watch  over  us ;  all  of  which  offices 
are  committed  to  angels,  but  not  to  departed  saints.  (/)  How 
preposterously  they  include  dead  saints  Avith  angels,  fully 
appears  from  so  many  ditferent  functions,  by  which  the  Scrip- 
ture distinguishes  some  from  others.  No  man  will  presume, 
without  previous  permission,  to  act  the  part  of  an  advocate 
before  an  earthly  judge  :  whence,  then,  have  worms  so  great  a 
license  to  obtrude  on  God  as  intercessors  those  who  are  not 
recorded  to  have  been  appointed  to  that  office  ?  God  has 
been  pleased  to  appoint  the  angels  to  attend  to  our  salvation, 
whence  they  frequent  the  sacred  assemblies,  and  the  Church 
is  to  them  a  theatre,  in  which  they  admire  the  various  and 
"manifold  wisdom  of  God."  (m)  Those  who  transfer  to 
others  that  which  is  peculiar  to  them,  certainly  confound  and 
pervert  the  order  established  by  God,  which  ought  to  be  in- 
violable. With  equal  dexterity  they  proceed  to  cite  other  tes- 
timonies. God  said  to  Jeremiah,  "  Though  Moses  and  Samuel 
stood  before  me,  yet  my  mind  could  not  be  toward  this  peo- 
ple." (?i)  How,  they  say,  could  he  thus  have  spoken  concern- 
ing persons  deceased,  unless  he  knew  that  they  were  accus- 
tomed to  intercede  for  the  living  ?  But  I,  on  the  contrary, 
deduce  this  conclusion  —  That  since  it  appears  that  neither 
Moses  nor  Samuel  interceded  for  the  Israelites,  there  was  then 
no  intercession  of  the  dead.  For  who  of  the  saints  must  we 
believe  to  be  concerned  for  the  salvation  of  the  people,  when 
this  ceases  to  be  the  case  with  Moses,  who  far  surpassed  all 
others  in  this  respect  while  alive  ?  But  if  they  pursue  such 
minute  subtleties,  that  the  dead  intercede  for  the  living,  because 
the  Lord  has  said,  "Though  they  interceded,"  I  shall  argue, 
with  far  greater  plausibility,  in  this  manner  —  In  the  people's  ex- 
treme necessity,  no  intercession  was  made  by  Moses,  of  whom  it 
is  said.  Though  he  interceded.  Therefore  it  is  highly  probable, 
that  no  intercession  is  made  by  any  other,  since  they  are  all  so 
far  from  possessing  the  gentleness,  kindness,  and  paternal  solici- 
tude of  Moses.  This  is  indeed  the  consequence  of  their  cavil- 
ling, that  they  are  wounded  with  the  same  weapons  with  which 
they  thought  themselves  admirably  defended.  But  it  is  very 
ridiculous,  that  a  plain  sentence  should  be  so  distorted ;  only 
because  the  Lord  declares  that  he  will  not  spare  the  crimes  of 
the  people,  even  though  their  cause  had  been  pleaded  by 
Bloses  or  Samuel,  to  whose  prayers  he  had  shown  himself  so 
very  propitious.  This  idea  is  very  clearly  deduced  from  a 
similar  passage  of  Ezekiel  —  "Though  these  three  men,  Noah, 

{[)  Heb.  i.  14.     Psalm  xci.  11 ;  xxxiv.  7.  (wi)  Ephes.  iii.  10.         (n)  Jer.  xv.  1. 

VOL.    II.  14 

JOG  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    11    • 

Daniel,  and  Job,  were  in  the  land,  they  should  deliver  but  their 
own  souls  by  their  righteousness,  saith  the  Lord  God  ;  "  (o; 
where  he  undoubtedly  meant  to  signify,  if  two  of  them  should 
return  to  life  again  ;  for  the  third  was  then  alive,  namely, 
Daniel,  who  is  well  known  to  have  given  an  incomparable 
specimen  of  his  piety,  even  in  the  flower  of  his  youth.  Let  us 
then  leave  them,  whom  the  Scripture  clearly  shows  to  have 
finished  their  course.  Therefore  Paul,  when  speaking  of  David, 
does  not  say  that  he  assists  posterity  by  his  prayers,  but  only 
that  "he  served  his  own  generation."  (p) 

XXIV.  They  further  object  —  Shall  we  then  divest  them  of 
every  benevolent  wish,  who  through  the  whole  course  of  their 
lives  breathed  only  benevolence  and  mercy  ?  Truly,  as  I  do  not 
wish  too  curiously  to  inquire  into  their  actions  or  thoughts,  so 
it  is  by  no  means  probable  that  they  are  agitated  by  the  im- 
pulse of  particular  wishes,  but  rather  that  with  fixed  and  per- 
manent desires  they  aspire  after  the  kingdom  of  God ;  which 
consists  no  less  in  the  perdition  of  the  impious,  than  in  the 
salvation  of  believers.  If  this  be  true,  their  charity  also  is 
comprehended  within  the  communion  of  the  body  of  Christ, 
and  extends  no  further  than  the  nature  of  that  communion  per- 
mits. But  though  I  grant  that  in  this  respect  they  pray  for  us, 
yet  they  do  not  therefore  relinquish  their  own  repose,  to  be 
distracted  with  earthly  cares ;  and  much  less  are  they  there- 
fore to  be  the  objects  of  our  invocation.  Neither  is  it  a  neces- 
sary consequence  of  this,  that  they  must  imitate  the  conduct 
of  men  on  earth  by  mutually  praying  for  one  another.  For 
this  conduces  to  the  cultivation  of  charity  among  them,  while 
they  divide,  as  it  were,  between  them,  and  reciprocally  bear 
their  mutual  necessities.  And  in  this,  indeed,  they  act  accord- 
ing to  God's  precept,  and  are  not  destitute  of  his  promise ; 
which  two  are  always  the  principal  points  in  prayer.  No  such 
considerations  have  any  relation  to  the  dead  ;  whom  when  the 
Lord  has  removed  from  our  society,  he  has  left  us  no  inter- 
course with  them,  nor  them,  indeed,  as  far  as  our  conjectures 
can  reach,  any  with  us.  (q)  But  if  any  one  plead,  that  they 
cannot  but  retain  the  same  charity  towards  us,  as  they  are 
united  with  us  by  the  same  faith,  yet  who  has  revealed  that 
they  have  ears  long  enough  to  reach  our  voices,  and  eyes  so 
perspicacious  as  to  watch  over  our  necessities  ?  They  talk  in 
the  schools  of  I  know  not  what  refulgence  ot  the  Divine  coun- 
tenance irradiating  them,  in  which,  as  in  a  mirror,  they  behold 
from  heaven  the  affairs  of  men.  But  to  affirm  this,  especially 
with  the  presumption  with  which  they  dare  to  assert  it,  what 
is  it  but  an  attempt,  by  the  infatuated  dreams  of  our  own 
brains,  forcibly  to  penetrate  into  the  secret  appointments  of 

(o)  Ezek.  xiv.  14.  (p)  Acts  xiii.  36.  (y)  Eccles.  ix.  5,  6. 


God,  without  the  authority  of  his  word,  and  to  trample  the 
Scripture  under  our  feet?  which  so  frequently  pronounces  our 
carnal  wisdom  to  be  hostile  to  the  wisdom  of  God:  totally 
condemns  the  vanity  of  our  mind  ;  and  directs  all  our  reason 
to  be  laid  in  the  dust,  and  the  Divine  will  to  be  the  sole  object 
of  our  regard. 

XXV.  The  other  testimonies  of  Scripture  which  they  ad- 
duce in  defence  of  this  false  doctrine,  they  distort  with  the 
greatest  perverseness.  But  Jacob  (they  say)  prays  that  his 
own  name,  and  the  name  of  his  fathers,  Abraham  and  Isaac, 
might  be  named  on  his  posterity,  (r)  Let  us  first  inquire  the 
form  of  this  naming,  or  calling  on  their  names,  among  the 
Israelites  ;  for  they  do  not  invoke  their  fathers  to  assist  them  ; 
but  they  beseech  God  to  remember  his  servants  Abraham,  Isaac, 
and  Jacob.  Their  example,  therefore,  is  no  vindication  of  those 
who  address  the  saints  themselves.  But  as  these  stupid  mor- 
tals understand  neither  what  it  is  to  name  the  name  of  Jacob, 
nor  for  what  reason  it  should  be  named,  we  need  not  won- 
der that  they  so  childishly  err  even  in  the  form  itself  This 
phraseology  more  than  once  occurs  in  the  Scriptures.  For 
Isaiah  says,  that  the  name  of  the  husband  is  "called  upon  "  the 
wife  who  lives  under  his  care  and  protection.  The  naming  or 
calling,  therefore,  of  the  name  of  Abraham  upon  the  Israelites, 
consists  in  their  deducing  their  genealogy  from  him,  and  re- 
vering and  celebrating  his  memory  as  their  great  progenitor. 
Neither  is  Jacob  actuated  by  a  solicitude  for  perpetuating  the 
celebrity  of  his  name,  but  by  a  knowledge  that  all  the  happi- 
ness of  his  posterity  consisted  in  the  inheritance  of  that  cove- 
nant which  God  had  made  with  him  :  and  perceiving  that  this 
would  be  the  greatest  of  all  blessings  to  them,  he  prays  that 
they  may  be  numbered  among  his  childr.en  ;  which  is  only 
transmitting  to  them  the  succession  of  the  covenant.  They, 
on  their  part,  when  they  introduce  the  mention  of  this  in  their 
prayers,  do  not  recur  to  the  intercessions  of  the  dead,  but  put 
the  Lord  in  remembrance  of  his  covenant,  in  which  their  most 
merciful  Father  has  engaged  to  be  propitious  and  beneficent 
to  them,  for  the  sake  of  Abraham,  Isaac,  and  Jacob.  How 
little  the  saints  depended  in  any  other  sense  on  the  merits 
of  their  fathers,  is  evinced  by  the  public  voice  of  the  Church 
hi  the  prophet  :  "  Thou  art  our  Father,  though  Abraham  be 
ignorant  of  us,  and  Israel  acknowledge  us  not :  thou,  O  Lord, 
art  our  Father,  our  Redeemer."  (s)  And  when  they  thus 
express  themselves,  they  add  at  the  same  time,  "  O  Lord, 
return,  for  thy  servants'  sake ;  "  yet  not  entertaining  a  thought 
of  any  intercession,  but  adverting  to  the  blessing  of  the  cove- 

(r)  Gen.  xlviii.  16.  (5)  Isaiah  Ixiii.  16 

108  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

nant.  But  now,  since  we  have  the  Lord  Jesus,  in  whose  hand 
the  eternal  covenant  of  mercy  is  not  only  made  but  confirmed 
to  us,  —  whose  name  should  we  rather  plead  in  our  prayers  ? 
And  since  these  good  doctors  contend  that  the  patriarchs  are  in 
these  words  represented  as  intercessors,  I  wish  to  be  informed 
by  them,  why,  in  such  a  vast  multitude,  no  place,  not  even  the 
lowest  among  them,  is  allotted  to  Abraham,  the  father  of 
the  Church  ?  From  what  vile  source  they  derive  their  advocates, 
is  well  known.  Let  them  answer  me  by  proving  it  right,  that 
Abraham,  whom  God  has  preferred  to  all  others,  and  elevated 
to  the  highest  degree  of  honour,  should  be  neglected  and  sup- 
pressed. The  truth  is,  that  since  this  practice  was  unknown  in 
the  ancient  Church,  they  thought  proper,  in  order  to  conceal 
its  novelty,  to  be  silent  respecting  the  ancient  fathers;  as 
though  the  difference  of  names  were  a  valid  excuse  for  a  recent 
and  corrupt  custom.  But  the  objection  urged  by  some,  that 
God  is  entreated  to  have  mercy  on  the  people  for  the  sake  of 
David,  is  so  far  from  supporting  their  error,  that  it  is  a  decisive 
refutation  of  it.  For  if  we  consider  the  character  sustained  by 
David,  he  is  selected  from  the  whole  company  of  the  saints, 
that  God  may  fulfil  the  covenant  which  he  made  with  him  ; 
so  that  it  refers  to  the  covenant,  rather  than  to  the  person,  and 
contains  a  figurative  declaration  of  the  sole  intercession  of 
Christ.  For  it  is  certain  that  what  was  peculiar  to  David, 
as  being  a  type  of  Christ,  is  niapplicable  to  any  others. 

XXVI.  But  it  seems  that  some  are  influenced  by  the  fre- 
quent declarations  which  we  read,  that  the  prayers  of  the 
saints  are  heard.  Why  ?  Truly  because  they  have  prayed. 
"  They  cried  unto  thee,"  says  the  Psalmist,  "  and  were  de- 
livered ;  they  trusted  in  thee,  and  were  not  confounded."  (t) 
Therefore,  let  us  likewise  pray  after  their  example,  that  we  may 
obtain  a  similar  audience.  But  these  men  preposterously  argue, 
that  none  will  be  heard  but  such  as  have  been  once  already 
heard.  How  much  more  properly  does  James  say,  "  Elias 
was  a  man  subject  to  like  passions  as  we  are,  and  he  prayed 
earnestly  that  it  might  not  rain  ;  and  it  rained  not  on  the  earth 
by  the  space  of  three  years  and  six  months.  And  he  prayed 
again,  and  the  heaven  gave  rain,  and  the  earth  brought  forth 
her  fruit."  (u)  What !  does  he  infer  any  peculiar  privilege  of 
Elias,  to  which  we  should  have  recourse  ?  Not  at  all ;  but  he 
shows  the  perpetual  efficacy  of  pure  and  pious  prayer,  to  ex- 
hort us  to  pray  in  a  similar  manner.  For  we  put  a  mean  con- 
struction on  the  promptitude  and  benignity  of  God  in  hearing 
them,  unless  we  be  encouraged  by  such  instances  to  a  firmer 
reliance  on  his  promises  ;  in  which  he  promises  to  hear,  not 
one  or  two,  or  even  a  few,  but  all  who  call  upon  his  name. 

(t)  Psalm  xxii.  5.  (m)  James  v.  17,  18. 


And  this  ignorance  is  so  much  the  less  excusable,  because  they 
appear  almost  professedly  to  disregard  so  many  testimonies  of 
Scripture.  David  experienced  frequent  deliverances  by  the 
Divine  power  ;  was  it  that  he  might  arrogate  it  to  himself,  in 
order  to  deliver  us  by  his  interposition  ?  He  makes  some  very 
different  declarations  :  "  The  righteous  shall  compass  me  about ; 
for  thou  shalt  deal  bountifully  with  me."  (x)  Again  :  "  They 
looked  unto  him,  and  were  lightened ;  and  their  faces  were  not 
ashamed.  This  poor  man  cried,  and  the  Lord  heard  him,  and 
saved  him  out  of  all  his  troubles."  (y)  The  Psalms  contain 
n.any  such  prayers,  in  which  he  implores  God  to  grant  his 
requests  from  this  consideration,  that  the  righteous  may  not  be 
put  to  shame,  but  may  be  encouraged  by  his  example  to  enter- 
tain a  good  hope.  Let  us  be  contented  at  present  with  one 
instance  :  "  For  this  shall  every  one  that  is  godly  pray  unto 
thee  in  a  time  when  thou  mayest  be  found ; "  (2;)  a  text  which 
I  have  the  more  readily  cited,  because  the  hireling  and  cavil- 
ling advocates  of  Popery  have  not  been  ashamed  to  plead  it  to 
prove  the  intercession  of  the  dead.  As  though  David  had  any 
other  design  than  to  show  the  effect  which  would  proceed  from 
the  Divine  clemency  and  goodness  when  his  prayers  should  be 
heard.  And  in  general  it  must  be  maintained,  that  an  ex- 
perience of  the  grace  of  God,  both  to  ourselves  and  to  others, 
affords  no  small  assistance  to  confirm  our  faith  in  his  promises. 
I  do  not  recite  numerous  passages,  where  he  proposes  to  him- 
self the  past  blessings  of  God  as  a  ground  of  present  and  future 
confidence,  since  they  will  naturally  occur  to  those  who  peruse 
the  Psalms.  Jacob  by  his  example  had  long  before  taught  the 
same  lesson  :  "  I  am  not  worthy  of  the  least  of  all  the  mercies, 
and  of  all  the  truth,  which  thou  hast  showed  unto  thy  servant  ; 
for  with  my  staff  I  passed  over  this  Jordan ;  and  now  I  am  be- 
come two  bands."  (a)  He  mentions  the  promise  indeed,  but  not 
alone  ;  he  likewise  adds  the  effect,  that  he  may  in  future  con- 
fide with  the  greater  boldness  in  the  continuance  of  the  Divine 
goodness  towards  him.  For  God  is  not  like  mortals,  who  grow 
w^eary  of  their  liberality,  or  whose  wealth  is  exhausted ;  but  is 
to  be  estimated  by  his  own  nature,  as  is  judiciously  done  by 
David,  when  he  says,  "  Thou  hast  redeemed  me,  O  Lord  God 
of  truth."  (6)  After  ascribing  to  him  the  praise  of  his  salva- 
tion, he  adds,  that  he  is  a  God  of  truth ;  because,  unless  he 
were  perpetually  and  uniformly  consistent  with  himself,  there 
could  not  be  derived  from  his  benefits  a  sufficient  argument  for 
confiding  in  him,  and  praying  to  him.  But  when  we  know 
'.hat  every  act  of  assistance,  which  he  affords  us,  is  a  specimen 

(z)  Psalm  cxlii.  7.  (y)  Psalm  xxxiv.  5,  6.  (z)  Psalm  xx.xii.  6. 

(a)  Gen.  xxxu.  10.  (b)  Psalm  xxxi.  5. 

110  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

and  proof  of  his  goodness  and  faithfulness,  we  shall  have  no 
reason  to  fear  lest  our  hopes  be  confounded  or  our  expectations 

XXVII.  Let  us  conclude  this  argument  in  the  following 
manner :  Since  the  Scripture  represents  the  principal  part  of 
Divine  Avorship  to  be  an  invocation  of  God,  as  he,  in  preference 
to  all  sacrifices,  requires  of  us  this  duty  of  piety,  no  prayer  can 
without  evident  sacrilege  be  directed  to  any  other.  Wherefore 
also  the  Psalmist  says,  "  If  we  have  stretched  out  our  hands 
to  a  strange  god,  shall  not  God  search  this  out?  "  (c)  Besides, 
since  God  will  only  be  invoked  in  faith,  and  expressly  com- 
mands prayers  to  be  conformed  to  the  rule  of  his  word  ;  finally, 
since  faith  founded  on  the  word  is  the  source  of  true  prayer,  — 
as  soon  as  the  least  deviation  is  made  from  the  word,  there  must 
necessarily  be  an  immediate  corruption  of  prayer.  But  it  has 
been  already  shown,  that  if  the  whole  Scripture  be  consulted, 
this  honour  is  there  claimed  for  God  alone.  With  respect  to 
the  oflice  of  intercession,  we  have  also  seen,  that  it  is  peculiar 
to  Christ,  and  that  no  prayer  is  acceptable  to  God,  unless  it  be 
sanctified  by  this  Mediator.  And  though  believers  mutually 
pray  to  God  for  their  brethren,  we  have  proved  that  this  dero- 
gates nothing  from  the  sole  intercession  of  Christ ;  because 
they  all  commend  both  themselves  and  others  to  God  in  a 
reliance  upon  it.  Moreover  we  have  argued,  that  this  is  inju- 
diciously applied  to  the  dead,  of  whom  we  nowhere  read  that 
they  are  commanded  to  pray  for  us.  The  Scripture  frequently 
exhorts  us  to  the  mutual  performance  of  this  duty  for  each 
other ;  but  concerning  the  dead  there  is  not  even  a  syllable ; 
and  James,  by  connecting  these  two  things,  "  Confess  your 
faults  one  to  another,  and  pray  one  for  another,"  tacitly  ex- 
cludes the  dead,  (d)  Wherefore,  to  condemn  this  error,  this 
one  reason  is  sufficient,  that  right  prayer  originates  in  faith, 
and  that  faith  is  produced  by  hearing  the  word  of  God,  where 
there  is  no  mention  of  this  fictitious  intercession  ;  for  the  teme- 
rity of  superstition  has  chosen  itself  advocates,  who  were  not 
of  Divine  appointment.  For  whilst  the  Scripture  abounds 
with  many  forms  of  prayer,  there  is  not  to  be  found  an  exam- 
ple of  this  advocacy,  without  which  the  Papists  believe  there 
can  be  no  prayer  at  all.  Besides,  it  is  evident  that  this  super- 
stition Jias  arisen  from  a  want  of  faith,  because  they  either 
were  not  content  with  Christ  as  their  intercessor,  or  entirely 
denied  him  this  glory.  The  latter  of  these  is  easily  proved 
from  their  impudence  ;  for  they  adduce  no  argument  more  valid 
to  show  that  we  need  the  mediation  of  the  saints,  than  when 
they  object  that  we  are  unworthy  of  familiar  access  to  God. 

(c)  Psalm  xliv.  20,  21.  (<Z)  James  v.  16. 


Which  indeed  we  acknowledge  to  be  strictly  true  ;  but  we 
thence  conchide,  that  they  rob  Christ  of  every  thing,  who  con- 
sider his  intercession  as  unavaiUng  without  the  assistance  of 
George  and  Hippolytus,  and  other  such  phantasms. 

XXVIII.  But  though  prayer  is  properly  restricted  to  wishes 
and  petitions,  yet  there  is  so  great  an  affinity  between  petition 
and  thanksgiving,  that  they  may  be  justly  comprehended 
under  the  same  name.  For  the  species  which  Paul  enume- 
rates, fall  under  the  first  member  of  this  division.  In  requests 
and  petitions  we  pour  out  our  desires  before  God,  imploring 
those  things  which  tend  to  the  propagation  of  his  glory  and  the 
illustration  of  his  name,  as  well  as  those  benefits  which  conduce 
to  our  advantage.  In  thanksgiving  we  celebrate  his  benefi- 
cence towards  us  with  due  praises,  acknowledging  all  the  bless- 
ings we  have  received  as  the  gifts  of  his  liberality.  Therefore 
David  has  connected  these  two  parts  together  :  "  Call  upon  me 
in  the  day  of  trouble  :  I  will  deliver  thee,  and  thou  shalt  glorify 
me."  (e)  The  Scripture,  not  without  reason,  enjoins  us  the 
continual  use  of  both  ;  for  we  have  elsewhere  said  that  our 
want  is  so  great,  and  experience  itself  proclaims  that  we  are 
molested  and  oppressed  on  every  side  with  such  numerous  and 
great  perplexities,  that  we  all  have  sufficient  cause  for  unceas- 
ing sighs,  and  groans,  and  ardent  supplications  to  God.  For 
though  they  enjoy  a  freedom  from  adversity,  yet  the  guilt  of 
their  sins,  and  the  inrmmerable  assaults  of  temptation,  ought  to 
stimulate  even  the  most  eminent  saints  to  pray  for  relief.  But 
of  the  sacrifice  of  praise  and  thanksgiving  there  can  be  no  inter- 
ruption, without  guilt ;  since  God  ceases  not  to  accumulate  on 
us  his  various  benefits,  according  to  our  respective  cases,  in  order 
to  constrain  us,  inactive  and  sluggish  as  we  are,  to  the  exercise 
of  gratitude.  Finally,  we  are  almost  overwhelmed  with  such 
great  and  copious  effusions  of  his  beneficence  ;  we  are  surrounded, 
whithersoever  we  turn  our  eyes,  by  such  numerous  and  amazing 
miracles  of  his  hand,  that  we  never  want  matter  of  praise  and 
thanksgiving.  And  to  be  a  little  more  explicit  on  this  point, 
since  all  our  hopes  and  all  our  help  are  in  God,  (which  has 
already  been  sufficiently  proved,)  so  that  we  cannot  enjoy 
prosperity,  either  in  our  persons  or  in  any  of  our  affairs,  without 
his  benediction,  — it  becomes  us  assiduously  to  commend  to  him 
ourselves  and  all  our  concerns.  Further,  whatever  Ave  think, 
speak,  or  act,  let  all  our  thoughts,  words,  and  actions  be  under 
his  direction,  subject  to  his  will,  and  finally  in  hope  of  his  as- 
sistance. For  the  curse  of  God  is  denounced  on  all,  who 
deliberate  and  decide  on  any  enterprise  in  a  reliance  on  them- 
selves or  on  any  other,  who  engage  in  or  attempt  to  begin  any 

(e)  Psalm  1.  15. 

1  12  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

undertaking  independently  of  his  will,  and  without  invoking  his 
aid.  And  since  it  has  already  been  several  times  observed,  that 
he  is  justly  honoured  when  he  is  acknowledged  to  be  the 
Author  of  all  blessings,  it  thence  follows  that  they  should  all 
be  so  received  from  his  hand,  as  to  be  attended  with  unceasing 
thanksgiving ;  and  that  there  is  no  other  proper  method  of 
using  the  benefits  which  tlow  to  us  from  his  goodness,  but  by 
continual  acknowledgments  of  his  praise,  and  unceasing  expres- 
sions of  our  gratitude.  For  Paul,  when  he  declares  that  they  are 
"  sanctified  by  the  word  of  God  and  prayer,"  at  the  same  time 
implies,  that  they  are  not  at  all  holy  and  pure  to  us  without 
the  word  and  prayer ;  (/)  the  word  being  metonymically  used 
to  denote  faith.  Wherefore  David,  after  experiencing  the  good- 
ness of  the  Lord,  beautifully  declares,  "  He  hath  put  a  new 
song  in  my  mouth  ;  "  (g")  in  which  he  certainly  implies  that  we 
are  guilty  of  a  criminal  silence,  if  we  omit  to  praise  him  for 
any  benefit ;  since,  in  every  blessing  he  bestows  on  us,  he  gives 
us  additional  cause  to  bless  his  name.  Thus  also  Isaiah,  pro- 
claiming the  unparalleled  grace  of  God,  exhorts  believers  to  a 
new  and  uncommon  song.  (A)  In  which  sense  David  elsewhere 
says,  "  O  Lord,  open  thou  my  lips ;  and  my  mouth  shall  show 
forth  thy  praise."  {i)  Hezekiah  likewise,  and  Jonah,  declare 
that  the  end  of  their  deliverance  shall  be  to  sing  the  Divine 
goodness  in  the  temple,  (k)  David  prescribes  the  same  general 
rule  for  all  the  saints.  "  What  shall  I  render  (says  he)  unto  the 
Lord  for  all  his  benefits  towards  me  ?  I  will  take  the  cup  of 
salvation,  and  call  upon  the  name  of  the  Lord."  (I)  And  this 
is  followed  by  the  Church  in  another  psalm  :  "  Save  us,  O 
Lord  our  God,  to  give  thanks  unto  thy  holy  name,  and  to  tri- 
umph in  thy  praise."  (m)  Again  :  "  He  will  regard  the  prayer 
of  the  destitute,  and  not  despise  their  prayer.  This  shall  be 
written  for  the  generation  to  come  ;  and  the  people  which 
shall  be  created  shall  praise  the  Lord.  To  declare  the  name 
of  the  Lord  in  Zion,  and  his  praise  in  Jerusalem."  (?i)  More- 
over, whenever  believers  entreat  the  Lord  to  do  any  thing 
''  for  his  name's  sake,"  as  they  profess  themselves  unworthy 
to  obtain  any  blessing  on  their  own  account,  so  they  lay  them- 
selves under  an  obligation  to  thanksgiving ;  and  promise  that 
the  Divine  beneficence  shall  be  productive  of  this  proper  eflect 
on  them,  even  to  cause  them  to  celebrate  its  fame.  Thus 
Hosea,  speaking  of  the  future  redemption  of  the  Church,  ad- 
dresses the  Lord :  "  Take  away  all  iniquity,  and  receive  us 
graciously ;  so  will  we  render  the  calves  of  our  lips."  (o)  Nor 
do  the  Divine  blessings  only  claim  the  praises  of  the  tongue, 

(/)  1  Tim.  iv.  5.  (i)  Psalm  li.  15.  (m)  Psalm  cvi.  47. 

(g)  Psalm  xl.  3.  {k)  Isaiah  xxxviii.  20.     Jonah  ii.  9.       (w)  Psalm  cii.  17,  &c. 

(A)    Isaiaii  xlii.  10.       (0  Psalm  cxvi.  12,  13.  (o)  Hosea  xiv.  2. 


but  naturally  conciliate  our  love.  "  I  love  the  Lord  (says  David) 
because  he  hath  heard  my  voice  and  my  supplications."  (p)  In 
another  place  also,  enumerating  the  assistances  he  had  expe- 
rienced, "I  will  love  thee,  O  Lord,  my  strength."  (^f)  Nor 
will  any  praises  ever  please  God,  but  such  as  tiow  from  this 
ardour  of  love.  We  must  likewise  remember  the  position  of 
Paul,  that  all  petitions,  to  which  thanksgiving  is  not  annexed, 
are  irregular  and  faulty.  For  thus  he  speaks  :  "  In  every  thing 
by  prayer  and  supplication  with  thanksgiving,  let  your  requests 
be  made  known  unto  God."  (r)  For  since  moroseness,  weari- 
ness, impatience,  pungent  sorrow  and  fear,  impel  many  to 
mutter  petitions,  he  enjoins  such  a  regulation  of  the  affections, 
that  believers  may  cheerfully  bless  God,  even  before  they  have 
obtained  their  requests.  If  this  connection  ought  to  exist 
in  circumstances  apparently  adverse,  God  lays  us  under  a  still 
more  sacred  obligation  to  sing  his  praises,  whenever  he  grants 
us  the  enjoyment  of  our  wishes.  But  as  we  have  asserted  that 
our  prayers,  which  had  otherwise  been  defiled,  are  consecrated 
by  the  intercession  of  Christ,  so  the  apostle,  when  he  exhorts 
us  "  by  Christ  to  offer  the  sacrifice  of  praise,"  (s)  admonishes 
us  that  our  lips  are  not  sufficiently  pure  to  celebrate  the  name 
of  God,  without  the  intervention  of  the  priesthood  of  Christ. 
Whence  we  infer,  how  prodigious  must  be  the  fascination  of 
the  Papists,  the  majority  of  whom  wonder  that  Christ  is  called 
an  Advocate.  This  is  the  reason  why  Paul  directs  to  "  pray 
without  ceasing,"  and  "in  every  thing  to  give  thanks;"  (t) 
because  he  desires  that  all  men,  with  all  possible  assiduity,  at 
every  time  and  in  every  place,  and  in  all  circumstances  and 
aflairs,  may  direct  their  prayers  to  God,  expecting  all  from  him, 
and  ascribing  to  him  the  praise  of  all,  since  he  affords  us 
perpetual  matter  of  prayer  and  praise.  ^ 

XXIX.  But  this  diligence  in  prayer,  although  it  chiefly 
respects  the  particular  and  private  devotions  of  each  individual, 
has,  notwithstanding,  some  reference  also  to  the  public  prayers 
of  the  Church.  But  these  cannot  be  unceasing,  nor  ought  they 
to  be  conducted  otherwise  than  according  to  the  polity  which  is 
appointed  by  the  common  consent.  This,  indeed,  I  confess. 
For  therefore  also  certain  hours  are  fixed  and  prescribed,  though 
indifterent  with  God,  yet  necessary  to  the  customs  of  men,  that 
the  benefit  of  all  may  be  regarded,  and  all  the  affairs  of  the 
Church  be  administered,  according  to  the  direction  of  Paul, 
'•decently  and  in  order."  (u)  But  this  by  no  means  prevents 
it  from  being  the  duty  of  every  Church  often  to  stimulate  them- 
selves to  a  greater  frequency  of  prayer,  and  also  to  be  inflamed 

'<■  (t)  1  Thess.  V.  17,  18. 

15.  (m)  1  Cor.  xiv.  40. 

(p)  Psalm  cxvi.  I. 
(q)    Psalm  xviii.  1. 

(r)  Phil,  iv 
(s)  Heb.  xi 

VOL.   II. 


114  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

with  more  ardent  devotion  on  the  pressure  of  any  necessity 
unusually  great.  But  the  place  to  speak  of  perseverance,  which 
is  nearly  allied  to  unceasing  diligence,  will  be  towards  the  end. 
Moreover  these  things  aiford  no  encouragement  to  those  vain 
repetitions  which  Christ  has  chosen  to  interdict  us  ;  (x)  for  he 
does  not  forbid  us  to  pray  long  or  frequently,  or  with  great 
fervour  of  affection ;  but  he  forbids  us  to  confide  in  our  ability 
to  extort  any  thing  from  God  by  stunning  his  ears  with  gar- 
rulous loquacity,  as  though  he  were  to  be  influenced  by  the  arts 
of  human  persuasion.  For  we  know  that  hypocrites,  who  do 
not  consider  that  they  are  concerned  with  God,  are  as  pompous 
in  their  prayers  as  in  a  triumph.  For  that  Pharisee,  Avho 
thanked  God  that  he  was  not  like  other  men,  (y)  undoubtedly 
flattered  himself  in  the  eyes  of  men,  as  if  he  wished  to  gain  by 
his  prayer  the  reputation  of  sanctity.  Hence  that  /SarToXo^ia  (vain 
repetition)  which  from  a  similar  cause  at  present  prevails  among 
the  Papists ;  while  some  vainly  consume  the  time  by  reite- 
rating the  same  oraisons,  and  others  recommend  themselves 
among  the  vulgar  by  a  tedious  accumulation  of  words.  Since 
this  garrulity  is  a  puerile  mocking  of  God,  we  need  not  wonder 
that  it  is  prohibited  in  the  Church,  that  nothing  may  be  heard 
there  but  what  is  serious,  and  proceeds  from  the  very  heart. 
Very  similar  to  this  corrupt  practice  is  another,  which  Christ 
condemns  at  the  same  time ;  that  hypocrites,  for  the  sake  of 
ostentation,  seek  after  many  witnesses  of  their  devotions,  and 
ratber  pray  in  the  market-place,  than  that  their  prayers  should 
want  the  applause  of  the  world.  But  as  it  has  been  already 
observed  that  the  end  of  prayer  is  to  elevate  our  minds  towards 
God,  both  in  a  confession  of  his  praise  and  in  a  supplication  of 
his  aid,  we  may  learn  from  this  that  its  principal  place  is  in  the 
mind  and  heart ;  or,  rather,  that  prayer  itself  is  the  desire  of  the 
inmost  heart,  which  is  poured  out  and  laid  before  God  the 
searcher  of  hearts.  Wherefore  our  heavenly  Teacher,  as  has 
already  been  mentioned,  when  he  intended  to  deliver  the  best 
rule  respecting  prayer,  gave  the  following  command:  "Enter 
into  thy  closet,  and  when  thou  hast  shut  thy  door,  pray  to  thy 
Father  which  is  in  secret ;  and  thy  Father  which  seeth  in 
secret  shall  reward  thee  openly."  {z)  For  when  he  has  dis 
suaded  from  imitating  the  example  of  hypocrites,  who  endea- 
voured by  the  ambitious  ostentation  of  their  prayers  to  gain  the 
favour  of  men,  he  immediately  adds  a  better  direction,  which  is, 
to  enter  into  our  closet,  and  there  to  pray  with  the  door  shut. 
In  which  words,  as  I  understand  them,  he  has  taught  us  to  seek 
retirement,  that  we  may  be  enabled  to  descend  into  our  own 
hearts,  with  all  our  powers  of  reflection,  and  promised  us  that 

(z)  Matt.  vi.  7.  {y)  Luke  xviii.  11.  (2)  Matt.  vi.  6. 



God,  whose  temples  our  bodies  ought  to  be,  will  accede  to  the 
desires  of  our  souls.  For  he  did  not  intend  to  deny  the  expedi- 
ency of  praying  also  in  other  places  ;  but  shows  that  prayer  is  a 
kind  of  secret  thing,  which  lies  principally  in  the  heart,  and  re- 
quires a  tranquillity  of  mind  undisturbed  by  all  cares.  It  was 
not  without  reason,  therefore,  that  the  Lord  himself,  when  he 
would  engage  in  an  unusual  vehemence  of  devotion,  retired  to 
some  solitary  place,  far  from  the  tumult  of  men  ;  but  with  a  view 
to  admonish  us  by  his  own  example,  that  we  ought  not  to  neglect 
these  helps,  by  which  our  hearts,  naturally  too  inconstant,  are 
more  intensely  fixed  on  the  devotional  exercise.  But  notwith- 
standing, as  he  did  not  refrain  from  praying  even  in  the  midst 
of  a  multitude,  if  at  any  time  the  occasion  required  it,  so  we, 
in  all  places  where  it  may  be  necessary,  should  "lift  up  holy 
hands."  (a)  And  so  it  is  to  be  concluded,  that  whoever 
refuses  to  pray  in  the  solemn  assembly  of  the  saints,  knows 
nothing  of  private  prayer,  either  solitary  or  domestic.  And 
again,  that  he  who  neglects  solitary  and  private  prayer,  how 
sedulously  soever  he  may  frequent  the  public  assemblies,  only 
forms  there  such  as  are  mere  wind,  because  he  pays  more  de- 
ference to  the  opinion  of  men  than  to  the  secret  judgment  of 
God.  In  the  mean  time,  that  the  common  prayers  of  the 
Church  might  not  sink  into  contempt,  God  anciently  distin- 
guished them  by  splendid  titles,  especially  when  he  called  the 
temple  a  "house  of  prayer."  (6)  For  by  this  expression  he 
taught  both  that  the  duty  of  prayer  is  a  principal  part  of  his 
worship,  and  that  the  temple  had  been  erected  as  a  standard  for 
believers,  in  order  that  they  might  engage  in  it  with  one 
consent.  There  was  also  added  a  remarkable  promise  :  "  Praise 
waiteth  for  thee,  O  God,  in  Sion ;  and  unto  thee  shall  the  vow 
be  performed;"  (c)  in  which  words  the  Psalmist  informs  us 
that  the  prayers  of  the  Church  are  never  in  vain,  because  the 
Lord  supplies  his  people  with  perpetual  matter  of  praise  and 
joy.  But  though  the  legal  shadows  have  ceased,  yet  since  it 
has  been  the  Divine  will  by  this  ceremony  to  maintain  a  unity 
of  faith  among  us  also,  the  same  promise  undoubtedly  belongs 
to  us,  Christ  having  confirmed  it  with  his  own  mouth,  and 
Paul  having  represented  it  as  perpetually  valid. 

XXX.  Now,  as  God  in  his  word  commands  believers  to 
unite  in  common  prayers,  so  also  it  is  necessary  that  public 
temples  be  appointed  for  performing  them  ;  where  they  who 
refuse  to  join  with  the  people  of  God  in  their  devotions,  have 
no  just  reason  for  abusing  this  pretext,  that  they  enter  into 
their  closets,  in  obedience  to  the  Divine  mandate.  For  he  who 
promises  to  grant  whatever  shall  be  implored  by  two  or  three 

(a)  1  Tim.  ii.  8.  {b)  Isaiah  Ivi.  7.  (c)  Psalm  Ixv.  1. 

116  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

persons  convenea  in  his  name,  {d)  proves  that  he  is  far  from 
despising  prayers  offered  in  public  ;  provided  they  be  free  from 
ostentation  and  a  desire  of  human  applause,  and  accompanied 
with  a  sincere  and  real  atfection  dwelling  in  the  secret  recesses 
of  the  heart.  If  this  be  the  legitimate  use  of  temples,  as  it 
certainly  is,  there  is  need  of  great  caution,  lest  we  either  con- 
sider them  as  the  proper  habitations  of  the  Deity,  where  he 
may  be  nearer  to  us  to  hear  our  prayers,  — an  idea  which  has  be- 
gun to  be  prevalent  for  several  ages,  — or  ascribe  to  them  I  know 
not  what  mysterious  sanctity,  which  might  be  supposed  to  ren- 
der our  devotions  more  holy  in  the  Divine  view.  For  since 
we  are  ourselves  the  true  temples  of  God,  we  must  pray  within 
ourselves,  if  we  wish  to  invoke  him  in  his  holy  temple.  But 
let  us,  who  are  directed  to  worship  the  Lord  "  in  spirit  and  in 
truth,"  (e)  without  any  difference  of  place,  relinquish  those 
gross  ideas  of  religion  to  the  Jews  or  pagans.  There  was, 
indeed,  anciently  a  temple  dedicated,  by  Divine  command,  to 
the  oblatioy  of  prayers  and  sacrifices  :  at  that  time  the  truth  was 
figuratively  concealed  under  such  shadows ;  but  now,  having 
been  plainly  discovered  to  us,  it  no  longer  permits  an  exclusive 
attachment  to  any  material  temple.  Nor,  indeed,  was  the 
temple  recommended  to  the  Jews  that  they  might  enclose  the 
Divine  presence  within  its  walls,  but  that  they  might  be  em- 
ployed in  contemplating  a  representation  of  the  true  temple. 
Therefore  Isaiah  and  Stephen  have  sharply  reprehended  those 
who  suppose  that  God  dwells  in  any  respect  '•  in  temples  made 
with  hands."  (/) 

XXXI.  Hence  it  is  moreover  clearly  evident,  that  neither 
voice  nor  singing,  if  used  in  prayer,  has  any  validity,  or  produces 
the  least  benefit  with  God,  unless  it  proceed  from  the  inmost 
desire  of  the  heart.  But  they  rather  provoke  his  wrath  against 
us,  if  they  be  only  emitted  from  the  lips  and  throat ;  since  that 
is  an  abuse  of  his  sacred  name,  and  a  derision  of  his  majesty  ; 
as  we  conclude  from  the  words  of  Isaiah,  which,  though  their 
meaning  be  more  extensive,  contain  also  a  reproof  of  this  of- 
fence :  "  The  Lord  said.  Forasmuch  as  this  people  draw  near 
me  with  their  mouth,  and  with  their  lips  do  honour  me,  but 
have  removed  their  heart  far  from  me,  and  their  fear  toward 
me  is  taught  by  the  precept  of  men,  —  therefore,  behold,  I  will 
proceed  to  do  a  marvellous  work  among  this  people,  even  a 
marvellous  work  and  a  wonder ;  for  the  wisdom  of  their  wise 
men  shall  perish,  and  the  understanding  of  their  prudent  men 
shall  be  hid."  {g)  Nor  do  we  here  condemn  the  use  of  the 
voice,  or  singing,  but  rather  highly  recommend  them,  provided 

(r/)  Matt,  xviii.  20.  (/)  Isaiah  Ixvi.  1.     Acts  vii.  43. 

(e)    John  iv.  23.  (^)  Isaiah  xxix,  13, 14.     Matt.  xv.  8,  9. 


they  accompany  the  affection  of  the  heart.  For  they  exercise 
the  mind  in  Divine  meditation,  and  fix  the  attention  of  the 
heart  ;  which  by  its  hibricity  and  versatihty  is  easily  relaxed 
and  distracted  to  a  variety  of  objects,  unless  it  be  supported  by 
various  helps.  Besides,  as  the  glory  of  God  ought  in  some 
respect  to  be  manifested  in  every  part  of  our  bodies,  to  this 
service,  both  in  singing  and  in  speaking,  it  becomes  us  espe- 
cially to  addict  and  devote  our  tongues,  which  were  created  for 
the  express  purpose  of  declaring  and  celebrating  the  Divine 
praises.  Nevertheless  the  principal  use  of  the  tongue  is  in  the 
public  praj'-ers  which  are  made  in  the  congregations  of  be- 
lievers ;  the  design  of  which  is,  that  with  one  common  voice, 
and  as  it  were  with  the  same  mouth,  we  may  all  at  once  pro- 
claim the  glory  of  God,  whom  we  worship  in  one  spirit  and 
with  the  same  faith  ;  and  this  is  publicly  done,  that  all  inter- 
changeably, each  one  of  his  brother,  may  receive  the  confes- 
sion of  faith,  and  be  invited  and  stimulated  by  his  example. 

XXXII.  Now,  the  custom  of  singing  in  churches  (to  speak 
of  it  by  the  way)  not  only  appears  to  be  very  ancient,  but  that 
it  was  even  used  by  the  apostles,  may  be  concluded  from  these 
words  of  Paul  :  "I  will  sing  with  the  spirit,  and  I  will  sing 
with  the  understanding  also."(/«)  Again,  to  the  Colossians  : 
"  Teaching  and  admonishing  one  another  in  psalms,  and 
hymns,  and  spiritual  songs,  singing  with  grace  in  your  hearts 
to  the  Lord."  («')  For  in  the  former  passage  he  inculcates 
singing  with  the  voice  and  with  the  heart ;  and  in  the  latter  he 
recommends  spiritual  songs,  which  may  conduce  to  the  mutual 
edification  of  the  saints.  Yet  that  it  was  not  universal  is 
proved  by  Augustine,  who  relates  that  in  the  time  of  Ambrose, 
the  church  at  Milan  first  adopted  the  practice  of  singing,  when, 
during  the  persecution  of  the  orthodox  faith  by  Justina,  the 
mother  of  Valentinian,  the  people  were  unusually  assiduous  in 
their  vigils  ;  and  that  the  other  Western  churches  followed. 
For  he  had  just  before  mentioned  that  this  custom  had  been 
derived  from  the  churches  of  the  East.  He  signifies  also,  in 
the  second  book  of  his  Retractations,  that  in  his  time  it  was 
received  in  Africa.  "One  Hilary,  (says  he,)  who  held  the 
tribunitial  office,  took  every  opportunity  of  loading  with  ma- 
licious censures  the  custom  which  was  then  introduced  at  Car- 
thage, that  hymns  from  the  Book  of  Psalms  should  be  sung  at 
the  altar,  either  before  the  oblation,  or  while  that  which  had 
been  off'ered  was  distributed  to  the  people.  In  obedience  to 
the  commands  of  my  brethren,  T  answered  him."  And  cer- 
tainly if  singing  be  attempered  to  that  gravity  which  becomes 
the  presence  of  God  and  of  angels,  it  adds  a  dignity  and  grace 

(A)  1  Cor.  xiv.  15.  (i)  Col.  iii.  16. 

118  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    HI. 

to  sacred  actions,  and  is  very  efRcacious  in  exciting  the  mind 
to  a  true  concern  and  ardour  of  devotion.  Yet  great  caution  is 
necessary,  that  the  ears  be  not  more  attentive  to  the  modulation 
of  the  notes,  than  the  mind  to  the  spiritual  import  of  the  words. 
With  which  danger  Augustine  confesses  himself  to  have  been 
so  affected,  as  sometimes  to  have  wished  for  the  observance  of 
the  custom  instituted  by  Athanasius,  who  directed  that  the 
reader  should  sound  the  words  with  such  a  gentle  inflection  of 
voice,  as  would  be  more  nearly  allied  to  rehearsing  than  to 
singing.  But  when  he  recollected  the  great  benefit  which 
himself  had  received  from  singing,  he  inclined  to  the  other 
side.  With  the  observance,  therefore,  of  this  limitation,  it  is 
without  doubt  an  institution  of  great  solemnity  and  usefulness. 
As,  on  the  reverse,  whatever  music  is  composed  only  to  please 
and  delight  the  ear,  is  unbecoming  the  majesty  of  the  Church, 
and  cannot  but  be  highly  displeasing  to  God. 

XXXIII.  Hence  also  it  plainly  appears,  that  public  prayers 
are  to  be  composed,  not  in  Greek  among  the  Latins,  nor  in 
Latin  among  the  French  or  English,  as  has  hitherto  been  uni- 
versally practised ;  but  in  the  vernacular  tongue,  which  may 
be  generally  understood  by  the  whole  congregation  ;  for  it 
ought  to  be  conducted  to  the  edification  of  the  whole  Church, 
to  whom  not  the  least  benefit  can  result  from  sounds  which 
they  do  not  understand.  But  they  who  disregard  the  voice 
both  of  charity  and  of  humanity,  ought  at  least  to  discover 
some  little  respect  for  the  authority  of  Paul,  whose  words  are 
free  from  all  ambiguity  :  "  When  thou  shalt  bless  with  the 
Spirit,  how  shall  he  that  occupieth  the  room  of  the  unlearned 
say  Amen  at  thy  giving  of  thanks,  seeing  he  understandeth 
not  what  thou  sayest  ?  For  thou  verily  givest  thanks  well, 
but  the  other  is  not  edified."  {k)  Who,  then,  can  sufficiently 
wonder  at  the  unbridled  license  of  the  Papists,  who,  notwith- 
standing this  apostolic  caution  against  it,  are  not  afraid  to  bel- 
low their  verbose  prayers  in  a  foreign  language,  of  which  they 
neither  sometimes  understand  a  syllable  themselves,  nor  wish 
a  syllable  to  be  understood  by  others !  But  Paul  directs  to  a 
different  practice:  "What  is  it  then?  (says  he)  I  will  pray 
with  the  spirit,  and  I  will  pray  with  the  understanding  also  :  I 
will  sing  with  the  spirit,  and  I  will  sing  with  the  understand- 
ing also."  (/)  Signifying  by  the  word  spirit  the  peculiar  gift 
of  tongues,  which  was  abused  by  some  of  its  possessors,  when 
they  separated  it  from  understanding.  Thus  it  must  be  fully 
admitted,  that  both  in  public  and  in  private  prayer,  the  tongue, 
unaccompanied  by  the  heart,  cannot  but  be  highly  displeasing 

Qi)  1  Cor.  xiv.  16,  17.  (/)  1  Cor.  xiv.  15. 


ardour  of  meditation,  to  rise  to  a  much  higher  elevation  than 
can  ever  be  attained  by  the  expression  of  the  tongue  ;  lastly, 
that  the  tongue  is  indeed  not  necessary  to  private  prayer,  any 
further  than  as  the  mind  is  insufficient  to  arouse  itself,  or  as 
the  vehemence  of  its  emotions  irresistibly  carries  the  tongue 
along  with  them.  For  though  some  of  the  best  prayers  are 
not  vocal,  yet  it  is  very  common,  under  strong  emotions,  for  the 
tongue  to  break  forth  into  sounds,  and  the  other  members  into 
gestures,  without  the  least  ostentation.  Hence  the  uncertain 
muttering  of  Hannah,  (m)  somewhat  similar  to  which  is  expe- 
riei]ced  by  the  saints  in  all  ages,  when  they  break  forth  into 
abrupt  and  imperfect  sounds.  The  corporeal  gestures  usually 
observ^ed  in  prayer,  such  as  kneeling  and  uncovering  the  head, 
are  customs  designed  to  increase  our  reverence  of  God. 

XXXIV.  Now,  we  must  learn  not  only  a  certain  rule,  but 
also  the  form  of  praying ;  even  that  which  our  heavenly  Father 
has  given  us  by  his  beloved  Son  ;  (n)  in  which  we  may  recog- 
nize his  infinite  goodness  and  clemency.  For  beside  advising 
and  exhorting  us  to  seek  him  in  all  our  necessities,  as  chil- 
dren, whenever  they  are  afflicted  with  any  distress,  are  accus- 
tomed to  have  recourse  to  the  protection  of  their  parents  ;  seeing 
that  we  did  not  sufficiently  perceive  how  great  was  our  poverty, 
what  it  was  right  to  implore,  or  what  would  be  suitable  to  our 
condition,  he  has  provided  a  remedy  even  for  this  our  igno- 
rance, and  abundantly  supplied  the  deficiencies  of  our  capacity. 
For  he  has  prescribed  for  us  a  form,  in  which  he  gives  a  state- 
ment of  all  that  it  is  lawful  to  desire  of  him,  all  that  is  condu- 
cive to  our  benefit,  and  all  that  it  is  necessary  to  ask.  From 
this  kindness  of  his,  we  derive  great  consolation  in  the  persuasion 
that  we  pray  for  nothing  absurd,  nothing  injurious  or  unseason- 
able ;  in  a  word,  nothing  but  what  is  agreeable  to  him  ;  since  our 
petitions  are  almost  in  his  own  words.  Plato,  observing  the  igno- 
rance of  men  in  presenting  their  supplications  to  God,  which  if 
granted  were  frequently  very  detrimental  to  them,  pronounces 
this  to  be  the  best  method  of  praying,  borrowed  from  an  an- 
cient poet :  "  King  Jupiter,  give  us  those  things  which  are 
best,  whether  we  pray  for  them  or  not  ;  but  command  evil 
things  to  remain  at  a  distance  from  us,  even  though  we  implore 
them."  And  indeed  the  wisdom  of  that  heathen  is  conspicu- 
ous in  this  instance,  since  he  considers  it  as  very  dangerous  to 
supplicate  the  Lord  to  gratify  all  the  dictates  of  our  appetites  ; 
and  at  the  same  time  discovers  our  infelicity,  who  cannot, 
without  danger,  even  open  our  mouths  in  the  presence  of  God, 
unless  we  be  instructed  by  the  Spirit  in  the  right  rule  of 
prayer,  (o)     And  this  privilege  deserves  to  be  the  more  highly 

(m)  1  Sam.  i.  13.  (n)  Matt.  vi.  9.    Luke  xi.  2.  (o)  Rom.  viii.  26,  27 

120  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

valued  by  us,  since  the  only  begotten  Son  of  God  puts  words 
into  our  mouths,  which  may  deliver  our  minds  from  all  hesi- 

XXXV.  This  form  or  rule  of  prayer,  whichever  appellation 
be  given  to  it,  is  composed  of  six  petitions.  For  my  reason  for 
not  agreeing  with  those  who  divide  it  into  seven  parts  is,  that 
the  Evangelist  appears,  by  the  insertion  of  the  adversative  con- 
junction, to  connect  together  these  two  clauses ;  as  though  he 
had  said,  Suffer  us  not  to  be  oppressed  with  temptation,  but 
rather  succour  our  weakness,  and  deliver  us,  that  we  may  not 
fall.  The  ancient  writers  of  the  Church  also  are  of  our 
opinion ;  so  that  what  is  now  added  in  Matthew  in  the  seventh 
place,  must  be  explained  as  belonging  to  the  sixth  petition. 
Now,  though  the  whole  prayer  is  such,  that  in  every  part  of  it 
the  principal  regard  must  be  paid  to  the  glory  of  God,  yet  to 
this  the  first  three  petitions  are  particularly  devoted,  and  to 
this  alone  we  ought  to  attend  in  them,  without  any  consider- 
ation of  our  own  interest.  The  remaining  three  concern  our- 
selves, and  are  expressly  assigned  to  supplications  for  those 
things  which  tend  to  our  benefit.  As  when  we  pray  that 
God's  name  may  be  hallowed,  since  he  chooses  to  prove 
whether  our  love  and  worship  of  him  be  voluntary,  or  dictated 
by  mercenary  motives,  we  must  then  think  nothing  of  our 
own  interest,  but  his  glory  must  be  proposed  as  the  only  object 
of  our  fixed  attention ;  nor  is  it  lawful  for  us  to  be  differently 
affected  in  the  other  petitions  of  this  class.  And  this  indeed 
conduces  to  our  great  benefit ;  because,  when  the  Divine  name 
is  hallowed  or  sanctified  as  we  pray,  it  becomes  likcAvise  our 
sanctification.  But  our  eyes  should  overlook,  and  be,  as  it  were, 
blind  to  such  advantage,  so  as  not  to  pay  the  least  regard  to  it. 
And  even  if  we  were  deprived  of  all  hope  of  private  benefit,  yet 
this  hallowing,  and  the  other  things  which  pertain  to  the  glory 
of  God,  ought  still  to  be  the  objects  of  our  desires  and  of  our 
prayers.  This  is  conspicuous  in  the  examples  of  Moses  and 
Paul,  (p)  who  felt  a  pleasure  in  averting  their  minds  and  eyes 
from  tliemselves,  and  in  praying  with  vehement  and  ardent  zeal 
for  their  own  destruction,  that  they  might  promote  the  king- 
dom and  glory  of  God  even  at  the  expense  of  their  own  happi- 
ness. On  the  other  hand,  when  we  pray  that  our  daily  bread 
may  be  given  us,  although  we  wish  for  what  is  beneficial  to 
ourselves,  yet  here  also  we  ought  principally  to  aim  at  the  glory 
of  God,  so  as  not  even  to  ask  it,  unless  it  tend  to  his  glory. 
Now,  let  us  attempt  an  explanation  of  the  prayer  itself. 

XXXVI.  Our  Father,  who  art  in  heaven,  &c.  The  first 
idea  that  occurs  is,  what  we  have  before  asserted,  that  we  ought 

(p)  Exod.  xxxii.  32.     Rom.  ix.  3. 


never  to  present  a  prayer  to  God  bat  in  the  name  of  Christ, 
since  no  other  name  can  recommend  it  to  his  regard.  For  by 
cahing  God  our  Father,  we  certainly  plead  the  name  of  Christ. 
For  with  what  confidence  could  any  one  call  God  his  Father  ? 
who  could  proceed  to  such  a  degree  of  temerity,  as  to  arrogate 
to  himself  the  dignity  of  a  son  of  God,  if  we  had  not  been 
adopted  as  the  children  of  his  grace  in  Christ  ?  who,  being  his 
true  Son,  has  been  given  by  him  to  us  as  our  brother,  that  the 
character  which  properly  belongs  to  him  by  nature,  may  be- 
come ours  by  the  blessing  of  adoption,  if  we  receive  this  in- 
estimable favour  with  a  steady  faith ;  as  John  says,  that  to 
them  is  given  "  power  to  become  the  sons  of  God,  even  to 
them  that  believe  on  the  name  of  the  only  begotten  of  the 
Father."  (q)  Therefore  he  denominates  himself  our  Father, 
and  wishes  us  to  give  him  the  same  appellation  ;  delivering 
us  from  all  diffidence  by  the  great  sweetness  of  this  name, 
since  the  atfection  of  love  can  nowhere  be  found  in  a  stronger 
degree  than  in  the  heart  of  a  father.  Therefore  he  could  not 
give  us  a  more  certain  proof  of  his  infinite  love  towards  us, 
than  by  our  being  denominated  the  sons  of  God.  But  his  love 
to  us  is  as  much  greater  and  more  excellent  than  all  the  love 
of  our  parents,  as  he  is  superior  to  all  men  in  goodness  and 
mercy  ;  (r)  so  that  though  all  the  fathers  in  the  world,  divested 
of  every  emotion  of  paternal  atfection,  should  leave  their  chil- 
dren destitute,  he  will  never  forsake  us,  because  "he  cannot 
deny  himself "  (s)  For  we  have  his  promise,  "If  ye,  then, 
being  evil,  know  how  to  give  good  gifts  unto  your  children, 
how  much  more  shall  your  Father  which  is  in  heaven  ?"  (^) 
Again,  in  the  prophet :  "  Can  a  woman  forget  her  child  ?  Yea, 
they  may  forget,  yet  will  I  not  forget  thee."  (w)  But  if  we  are 
his  sons,  then,  as  a  son  cannot  commit  himself  to  the  protec- 
tion of  a  stranger  and  an  alien,  without  at  the  same  time  com- 
plaining of  the  cruelty  or  poverty  of  his  father,  so  neither  can 
we  seek  supplies  for  our  wants  from  any  other  quarter  than 
from  him,  without  charging  him  with  indigence  and  inability, 
or  with  cruelty  and  excessive  austerity. 

XXXVII.  Neither  let  us  plead  that  we  are  justly  terrified 
by  a  consciousness  of  our  sins,  which  may  cause  even  a  merci- 
ful, kind  Father  to  be  daily  ofiended  with  us.  For  if,  among 
men,  a  son  can  conduct  his  cause  with  his  father  by  no  better 
advocate,  can  conciliate  and  recover  his  lost  favour  by  no  bet- 
ter mediator,  than  by  approaching  him  as  an  humble  suppliant, 
acknowledging  his  own  guilt,  and  imploring  his  father's  mercy, 
(for  the  bowels  of  a  father  could  not  conceal  their  emotions  at 

(j)  John  i.  12,  14.  (r)  1  John  iii.  1.     Psabn  xxvii.  10.     Isaiah  Ixiii.  16 

(s)  2  Tim.  ii.  13.  (t)  Matt.  vii.  il.  (u)  Isaiah  xhx.  15. 

VOL.    II.  16 

122  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IH, 

such  supplications,)  Avhat  will  he  do,  who  is  "the  Father  of 
mercies,  and  the  God  of  all  comfort  ? "  (x)  Will  he  not  heai 
the  cries  and  groans  of  his  children  when  they  deprecate  his 
displeasure  for  themselves,  especially  since  it  is  to  this  that  he 
invites  and  exhorts  us ;  rather  than  attend  to  any  intercessions 
of  others,  to  which  they  resort  in  great  consternation,  not  with- 
out some  degree  of  despair,  arising  from  a  doubt  of  the  kind- 
ness and  clemency  of  their  Father  ?  Of  this  exuberance  of 
paternal  kindness,  he  gives  us  a  beautiful  representation  in  a 
parable  ;  (y)  where  a  father  meets  and  embraces  a  son  Avho  had 
alienated  himself  from  his  family,  who  had  dissolutely  lavished 
his  substance,  who  had  grievously  offended  him  in  every  re- 
spect :  nor  does  he  wait  till  he  actually  supi)licates  for  pardon, 
but  anticipates  him,  recognizes  him  when  returning  at  a  great 
distance,  voluntarily  runs  to  meet  him,  consoles  him,  and  re- 
ceives him  into  favour.  For  by  proposing  to  our  view  an  ex- 
ample of  such  great  kindness  in  a  man,  he  intended  to  teach  us 
how  much  more  abundant  compassion  we  ought,  notwithstand- 
ing our  mgratitude,  rebellion,  and  wickedness,  to  expect  from 
him,  who  is  not  only  our  Father,  but  the  most  benevolent  and 
merciful  of  all  fathers,  provided  we  only  cast  ourselves  on  his 
mercy.  And  to  give  us  the  more  certain  assurance  that  he  is  such 
a  Father,  if  we  be  Christians,  he  will  be  called  not  only  "  Father," 
but  expressly  "  Our  Father  ;  "  as  though  we  might  address  him 
in  the  following  manner  :  O  Father,  whose  affection  towards  thy 
children  is  so  strong,  and  whose  readiness  to  pardon  them  is  so 
great,  we  thy  children  invoke  thee  and  pray  to  thee,  under  the 
assurance  and  full  persuasion  that  thou  hast  no  other  than  a 
paternal  affection  towards  us,  how  unworthy  soever  we  are  of 
such  a  Father.  But  because  the  contracted  capacities  of  our 
minds  cannot  conceive  of  a  favour  of  such  immense  magnitude, 
we  not  only  have  Christ  as  the  pledge  and  earnest  of  adoption, 
but  as  a  witness  of  this  adoption  he  gives  us  the  Spirit,  by 
whom  we  are  enabled  with  a  loud  voice  freely  to  cry,  "  Abba, 
Father."  (z)  Whenever,  therefore,  we  may  be  emlDarrassed 
by  any  difficulty,  let  us  remember  to  supplicate  him,  that  he 
will  correct  our  timidity,  and  give  us  this  spirit  of  magnanimity 
to  enable  us  to  pray  with  boldness. 

XXXVIII.  But  since  we  are  not  instructed,  that  every  indi- 
vidual should  appropriate  him  to  himself  exclusively  as  his 
Father,  but  rather  that  we  should  all  in  common  call  him  Our 
Father,  we  are  thereby  admonished  how  strong  a  fraternal 
aftection  ought  to  prevail  among  us,  who,  by  the  same  pri- 
vilege of  mercy  and  free  grace,  are  equally  the  children  of  such 
a  Father.     For  if  we  all  have  one  common  Father,  (a)  from 

(z)  SCor.i.  3.         (j/)  Luke  XV.  11,  &c.         (2)  Gal.  iv.  6.  (a)  Matt,  xxiii.  9, 


whom  proceeds  every  blessing  we  enjoy,  there  ought  to  be 
notliing  exckisively  appropriated  by  any  among  us,  but  what 
we  should  be  ready  to  communicate  to  each  other  with  the 
greatest  alacrity  of  heart,  whenever  necessity  requires.  Now, 
if  we  desire,  as  we  ought,  to  exert  ourselves  for  our  mutual 
assistance,  there  is  nothing  in  which  we  can  better  promote 
the  interests  of  our  brethren,  than  by  commending  them  to  the 
providential  care  of  our  most  benevolent  Father,  with  whose 
mercy  and  favour  no  other  want  can  be  experienced.  And, 
indeed,  this  is  a  debt  which  we  owe  to  our  Father  himself. 
For  as  he  who  truly  and  cordially  loves  any  father  of  a  family, 
feels  likewise  a  love  and  friendship  for  his  whole  household, 
in  the  same  manner,  our  zeal  and  affection  towards  this  hea- 
venly Father  must  be  shown  towards  his  people,  his  family,  his 
inheritance,  whom  he  has  dignified  with  the  honourable  appel- 
lation of  the  "fulness"  of  his  only  begotten  Son.  (6)  Let  a 
Christian,  then,  regulate  his  prayers  by  this  rule,  that  they  be 
common,  and  comprehend  all  who  are  his  brethren  in  Christ ; 
and  not  only  those  whom  he  at  present  sees  and  knows  to  be 
such,  but  all  men  in  the  world  ;  respecting  whom,  what  God 
has  determined  is  beyond  our  knowledge  ;  only  that  to  wish 
and  hope  the  best  concerning  them,  is  equally  the  dictate  of 
piety  and  of  humanity.  It  becomes  us,  however,  to  exercise  a 
peculiar  and  superior  affection  "  unto  them  who  are  of  the 
household  of  faith ;  "  whom  the  apostle  has  in  every  case  re- 
commended to  our  particular  regards,  (c)  In  a  word,  all  our 
prayers  ought  to  be  such,  as  to  respect  that  community  which 
our  Lord  has  established  in  his  kingdom  and  in  his  family. 

XXXIX.  Yet  this  is  no  objection  to  the  lawfulness  of  par- 
ticular prayers,  both  for  ourselves  and  for  other  certain  indi- 
viduals ;  provided  our  minds  be  not  withdrawn  from  a  regard 
to  this  community,  nor  even  diverted  from  it,  but  refer  every 
thing  to  this  point.  For  though  the  words  of  them  be  singular, 
yet  as  they  are  directed  to  this  end,  they  cease  not  to  be  com- 
mon. All  this  may  be  rendered  very  intelligible  by  a  simili- 
tude. God  has  given  a  general  command  to  relieve  the  wants 
of  all  the  poor  ;  and  yet  this  is  obeyed  by  them  who  to  that 
end  succour  the  indigence  of  those  whom  they  either  know  or 
see  to  be  labouring  under  poverty ;  even  though  they  pass  by 
multitudes  who  are  oppressed  with  necessities  equally  severe, 
because  neither  their  knowledge  nor  al3rility  can  extend  to  all. 
In  the  same  manner,  no  opposition  is  made  to  the  Divine  will 
by  them  who,  regarding  and  considering  this  common  society 
of  the  Church,  present  such  particular  prayers,  in  which,  with 
a  public  spirit,  but  in  particular  terms,  they  recommend  to  God 

{b)  Ephes.  i.  23.  (c)  Gal.  vi.  10. 

124  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

themselves  or  others,  Avhose  necessity  he  has  placed  within 
their  more  immediate  knowledge.  However,  there  is  not  a 
perfect  similarity  in  every  respect  between  prayer  and  donation 
of  alms,  for  mnnificence  cannot  be  exercised  but  towards  them 
whose  wants  we  have  perceived  :  but  we  may  assist  by  our 
prayers  even  the  greatest  strangers,  and  those  with  whom  we 
are  the  most  unacquainted,  how  distant  soever  they  may  be 
from  us.  This  is  done  by  that  general  form  of  prayer,  which 
comprehends  all  the  children  of  God,  among  whom  they  also 
are  numbered.  To  this  may  be  referred  the  exhortation  which 
Paul  gives  believers  of  his  age,  "  that  men  pray  every  where, 
lifting  up  holy  hands  without  wrath  ;  "  {d)  because  by  admo- 
nishing them,  that  discord  shuts  the  gate  against  prayers,  he  ad- 
vises them  unanimously  to  unite  all  their  petitions  together. 

XL.  It  is  added,  That  he  is  in  heaven.  From  which  it 
is  not  hastily  to  be  inferred,  that  he  is  included  and  circum- 
scribed within  the  circumference  of  heaven,  as  by  certain  bar- 
riers. For  Solomon  confesses,  that  "  the  heaven  of  heavens 
cannot  contain  "  him.  (e)  And  he  says  himself,  by  the  prophet, 
"  The  heaven  is  my  throne,  and  the  earth  is  my  footstool."  (/) 
By  which  he  clearly  signifies  that  he  is  not  limited  to  any  par- 
ticular region,  but  diffused  throughout  all  space.  But  because 
the  dulness  of  our  minds  could  not  otherwise  conceive  of  his 
ineffable  glory,  it  is  designated  to  us  by  the  heaven,  than  which 
we  can  behold  nothing  more  august  or  more  majestic.  Since, 
then,  wherever  our  senses  apprehend  any  thing,  there  they  are 
accustomed  to  fix  it,  God  is  represented  as  beyond  all  place, 
that  when  we  seek  him  we  may  be  elevated  above  all  reach  of 
both  body  and  soul.  Moreover,  by  this  form  of  expression,  he  is 
exalted  above  all  possibility  of  corruption  or  mutation  :  finally, 
it  is  signified,  that  he  comprehends  and  contains  the  whole 
world,  and  governs  the  universe  by  his  power.  Wherefore, 
this  is  the  same  as  if  he  had  been  said  to  be  possessed  of  an 
incomprehensible  essence,  infinite  magnitude  or  sublimity, 
irresistible  poAver,  and  unlimited  immortality.  But  when  we 
hear  this,  our  thoughts  must  be  raised  to  a  higher  elevation 
when  God  is  mentioned  ;  that  we  may  not  entertain  any  ter- 
restrial or  carnal  imaginations  concerning  him,  that  we  may 
not  measure  him  by  our  diminutive  proportions,  or  judge  of 
his  will  by  our  affections.  We  should  likewise  be  encouraged 
to  place  the  most  implicit  reliance  on  him,  by  whose  providence 
and  power  we  understand  both  heaven  and  earth  to  be  governed. 
To  conclude  :  under  the  name  of  "  Our  Father  "  is  represented 
to  us,  that  God  who  has  appeared  to  us  in  his  own  image,  that 

{(})  1  Tim.  ii.  8.  (/)  Isaiah  Ixvi.  1.     Acts  vii.  49; 

(e)  1  Kings  viii.  27.  xvii.  24. 


Tve  might  call  upon  him  with  a  steady  faith  ;  and  the  familiar 
appellation  of  Father  is  not  only  adapted  to  produce  confidence, 
but  also  efficacious  to  prevent  our  minds  from  being  seduced 
to  dubious  or  fictitious  deities,  and  to  cause  them  to  ascend 
from  the  only  begotten  Son  to  the  common  Father  of  angels 
and  of  saints  ;  moreover,  when  his  throne  is  placed  in  heaven, 
we  are  reminded  by  his  government  of  the  world,  that  it  is  not 
in  vain  for  us  to  approach  to  him  who  makes  us  the  objects  of 
his  present  and  voluntary  care.  "  He  that  cometh  to  God 
(says  the  apostle)  must  believe  that  he  is,  and  that  he  is  a  re- 
warder  of  them  that  diligently  seek  him."  (g)  Christ  asserts 
both  these  of  his  Father,  that  we  may  have  first  a  firm  faith 
in  his  existence,  and  then  a  certain  persuasion  that,  since  he 
deigns  to  extend  his  providence  to  us,  he  will  not  neglect  our 
salvation.  By  these  principles,  Paul  prepares  us  for  praying  in 
right  manner  ;  for  his  exhortation,  "  Let  your  requests  be  made 
known  unto  God,"  is  thus  prefaced :  "  The  Lord  is  at  hand. 
Be  careful  for  nothing."  (h)  Whence  it  appears,  that  their 
prayers  must  be  attended  with  great  doubt  and  perplexity  of 
mind,  who  are  not  well  established  in  this  truth,  that  "  the  eyes 
of  the  Lord  are  upon  the  righteous.  "  (?) 

XLL  The  first  petition  is.  That  God's  name  may  be  hal- 
lowed ;  the  necessity  of  which  is  connected  with  our  great 
disgrace.  For  what  is  more  shameful,  than  that  the  Divine 
glory  should  be  obscured  partly  by  our  ingratitude,  partly  by 
our  malignity,  and,  as  far  as  possible,  obliterated  by  our  pre- 
sumption, infatuation,  and  perverseness  ?  Notwithstanding  all 
the  sacrilegious  rage  and  clamours  of  the  impious,  yet  the 
refulgence  of  holiness  still  adorns  the  Divine  name.  Nor  does 
the  Psalmist  without  reason  exclaim,  "  According  to  thy  name, 
O  God,  so  is  thy  praise  unto  the  ends  of  the  earth."  (k)  For 
wherever  God  may  be  known,  there  must  necessarily  be  a 
manifestation  of  his  perfections  of  power,  goodness,  wisdom, 
righteousness,  mercy,  and  truth,  which  command  our  admira- 
tion and  excite  us  to  celebrate  his  praise.  Therefore,  because 
God  is  so  unjustly  robbed  of  his  holiness  on  earth,  if  it  is  not 
in  our  power  to  assert  it  for  him,  we  are  at  least  commanded  to 
regard  it  in  our  prayers.  The  substance  of  it  is,  that  we  wish 
God  to  receive  all  the  honour  that  he  deserves,  that  men  may 
never  speak  or  think  of  him  but  with  the  highest  reverence  ;  to 
which  is  opposed  that  profanation,  which  has  always  been  too 
common  in  the  world,  as  it  continues  to  be  in  the  present  age. 
And  hence  the  necessity  of  this  petition,  which,  if  we  were 
influenced  by   only  a  tolerable  degree  of  piety,  ought  to  be 

(g)  Heb.  xi.  6.  (i)  Psalm  xxxiv.  1.^  ;  xxxiii.  18. 

(h)  Phil.  iv.  5,  6.  {k)  Psalm  xlviii.  10. 

126  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

superfluous.  But  if  the  name  of  God  be  truly  hallowed,  when 
separated  from  all  others  it  breathes  pure  glory,  we  are  here 
commanded  to  pray,  not  only  that  God  will  vindicate  his  holy 
name  from  all  contempt  and  ignominy,  but  also  that  he  will 
constrain  all  mankind  to  revere  it.  Now,  as  God  manifests 
himself  to  us  partly  by  his  word,  and  partly  by  his  works,  he 
is  no  otherwise  hallowed  by  us,  than  if  we  attribute  to  him  in 
both  instances  that  which  belongs  to  him,  and  so  receive  what- 
ever proceeds  from  him  ;  ascribing,  moreover,  equal  praise  to 
his  severity  and  to  his  clemency ;  since  on  the  multiplicity  and 
variety  of  his  works  he  has  impressed  characters  of  his  glory, 
which  should  draw  from  every  tongue  a  confession  of  his  praise. 
Thus  will  the  Scripture  obtain  a  just  authority  with  us,  nor 
will  any  event  obstruct  the  benedictions  which  God  deserves 
in  the  whole  course  of  his  government  of  the  world.  The 
tendency  of  the  petition  is,  further,  that  all  impiety  which  sul- 
lies this  holy  name,  may  be  utterly  abolished  ;  that  whatever 
obscures  or  diminishes  this  hallowing,  whether  detraction  or 
derision,  may  disappear ;  and  that  while  God  restrains  all 
sacrilege,  his  majesty  may  shine  with  increasing  splendour. 

XLII.  The  second  petition  is.  That  the  kingdom  of  God 
MAY  come  ;  which,  though  it  contains  nothing  new,  is  yet  not 
without  reason  distinguished  from  the  first ;  because,  if  we  con- 
sider our  inattention  in  the  most  important  of  all  concerns,  it  is 
useful  for  that  which  ought  of  itself  to  have  been  most  inti- 
mately known  to  us,  to  be  inculcated  in  a  variety  of  words. 
Therefore,  after  we  have  been  commanded  to  pray  to  God  to 
subdue,  and  at  length  utterly  to  destroy,  every  thing  that  sullies 
his  holy  name,  there  is  now  added  another  petition,  similar  and 
almost  identically  the  same  —  That  his  kingdom  may  come. 
Now,  though  we  have  already  given  a  definition  of  this  king- 
dom, I  now  briefly  repeat,  that  God  reigns  when  men,  renoun- 
cmg  themselves  and  despising  the  world  and  the  present  state, 
submit  themselves  to  his  righteousness,  so  as  to  aspire  to  the 
heavenly  state.  Thus  this  kingdom  consists  of  two  parts  ;  the 
one,  God's  correcting  by  the  power  of  his  Spirit  all  our  carnal 
and  depraved  appetites,  which  oppose  him  in  great  numbers  ; 
the  other,  his  forming  all  our  powers  to  an  obedience  to  his 
commands.  No  others  therefore  observe  a  proper  order  in  this 
petition,  but  they  who  begin  from  themselves,  that  is,  that  they 
may  be  purified  from  all  corruptions  which  disturb  the  tran- 
quillity, or  violate  the  purity,  of  God's  kingdom.  Now,  since 
the  Divine  word  resembles  a  royal  sceptre,  we  are  commanded 
to  pray  that  he  will  subdue  the  hearts  and  minds  of  all  men  to 
a  voluntary  obedience  to  it.  This  is  accomplished,  when,  by 
the  secret  inspiration  of  his  Spirit,  he  displays  the  efficacy  of 
his   word,    and  causes  it   to   obtain   the  honour   it   deserves. 


Afterwards,  it  is  our  duty  to  descend  to  the  impious,  by  whom 
his  aiuhority  is  resisted  with  the  perseverance  of  obstinacy  and 
the  fury  of  despair.  God  therefore  erects  his  kingdom  on  the 
huniihation  of  the  whole  world,  though  his  methods  of  humili- 
ation are  various ;  for  he  restrains  the  passions  of  some,  and 
breaks  the  unsubdued  arrogance  of  others.  It  ought  to  be  the 
object  of  our  daily  wishes,  that  God  woidd  collect  churches  for 
himself  from  all  the  countries  of  the  earth,  that  he  would  en- 
large their  numbers,  enrich  them  with  gifts,  and  establish  a 
legitimate  order  among  them  ;  that,  on  the  contrary,  he  would 
overthrow  all  the  enemies  of  the  pure  doctrine  and  religion, 
that  he  would  confound  their  counsels,  and  defeat  their  at- 
tempts. Whence  it  appears  that  the  desire  of  a  daily  progress 
is  not  enjoined  us  in  vain  ;  because  human  affairs  are  never  in 
such  a  happy  situation,  as  that  all  defilement  of  sin  is  removed, 
and  purity  can  be  seen  in  full  perfection.  This  perfection  is 
deferred  till  the  last  advent  of  Christ,  when,  the  apostle  says, 
"  God  will  be  all  in  all."  (l)  And  so  this  petition  ought  to 
withdraw  us  from  all  the  corruptions  of  the  world,  which  sepa- 
rate us  from  God,  and  prevent  his  kingdom  from  flourishing 
within  us  ;  it  ought  likewise  to  inflame  us  with  an  ardent 
desire  of  mortifying  the  flesh,  and  finally  to  teach  us  to  bear 
the  cross ;  since  these  are  the  means  which  God  chooses  for 
the  extension  of  his  kingdom.  Nor  should  we  be  impatient 
that  the  outward  man  is  destroyed,  provided  the  inward  man 
be  renewed.  For  this  is  the  order  of  the  kingdom  of  God, 
that,  when  we  submit  to  his  righteousness,  he  makes  us  par- 
takers of  his  glory.  This  is  accomplished,  when,  discovering 
his  light  and  truth  with  perpetual  accession  of  splendour, 
before  which  the  shades  and  falsehoods  of  Satan  and  of  his 
kingdom  vanish  and  become  extinct,  he  by  the  aids  of  his 
Spn-it  directs  his  children  into  the  path  of  rectitude,  and 
strengthens  them  to  perseverance ;  but  defeats  the  impious 
conspiracies  of  his  enemies,  confounds  their  insidious  and  fraud- 
ulent designs,  disappoints  their  malice,  and  represses  their  ob- 
stinacy, till  at  length  "he  "  will  "consume  "  Antichrist  "with 
the  spirit  of  his  mouth,  and  destroy"  all  impiety  "with  the 
brightness  of  his  coming."  (m) 

XLIII.  The  third  petition  is.  That  the  will  of  God  may 
BE  DONE  on  earth  AS  IT  IS  IN  HEAVEN  ;  which,  tliougli  it  is  an 
appendage  to  his  kingdom,  and  cannot  be  disjoined  from  it,  is 
yet  not  without  reason  separately  mentioned,  on  account  of  our 
ignorance,  which  does  not  apprehend  with  facility  what  it  is 
for  God  to  reign  in  the  world.  There  will  be  nothing  absurd, 
then,  in  understanding  this  as  an  explanation,  that  God's  king- 

(l)  1  Cor.  XV.  28.  (m)  2  Thess.  ii.  8. 

128  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

dom  will  then  prevail  in  the  world,  when  all  shall  submit  to 
his  will.  Now,  we  speak  not  here  of  his  secret  will,  by  which 
he  governs  all  things,  and  appoints  them  to  fulfil  his  own  pur- 
poses. For  though  Satan  and  men  oppose  him  with  all  the 
violence  of  rage,  yet  his  incomprehensible  wisdom  is  able,  not 
only  to  divert  their  impetuosity,  but  to  overrule  it  for  the 
accomplishment  of  his  decrees.  But  the  Divine  will  here  in- 
tended, is  that  to  which  voluntary  obedience  corresponds ;  and 
therefore  heaven  is  expressly  compared  with  the  earth,  because 
the  angels,  as  the  Psalmist  says,  spontaneously  "  do  his  com- 
mandments, hearkening  unto  the  voice  of  his  word."  (n)  We 
are  therefore  commanded  to  desire  that,  as  in  heaven  nothing  is 
done  but  according  to  the  Divine  will,  and  the  angels  are 
placidly  conformed  to  every  thing  that  is  right,  so  the  earth, 
all  obstinacy  and  depravity  being  annihilated,  may  be  subject 
to  the  same  government.  And  in  praying  for  this,  we  renounce 
our  own  carnal  desires  ;  because,  unless  we  resign  all  our  atfec- 
tions  to  God,  we  are  guilty  of  all  the  opposition  in  our  power 
to  his  will,  for  nothing  proceeds  from  us  but  what  is  sinful. 
And  we  are  likewise  habituated  by  this  petition  to  a  renuncia- 
tion of  ourselves,  that  God  may  rule  us  according  to  his  own 
pleasure  ;  and  not  only  so,  but  that  he  may  also  create  in  us 
new  minds  and  new  hearts,  annihilating  our  own,  that  we  may 
experience  no  emotion  of  desire  within  us,  but  a  mere  consent 
to  his  will ;  in  a  word,  that  we  may  have  no  will  of  our 
own,  but  that  our  hearts  may  be  governed  by  his  Spirit,  by 
whose  internal  teachings  we  may  learn  to  love  those  things 
which  please  him,  and  to  hate  those  which  he  disapproves  ; 
consequently,  that  he  may  render  abortive  all  those  desires 
which  are  repugnant  to  his  will.  These  are  the  three  first 
clauses  of  this  prayer,  in  praying  which  we  ought  solely  to 
have  in  view  the  glory  of  God,  omitting  all  consideration  of 
ourselves,  and  not  regarding  any  advantage  of  our  own,  which, 
though  they  largely  contribute  to  it,  should  not  be  our  end  in 
these  petitions.  But  though  all  these  things,  even  if  we  never 
think  of  them,  nor  wish  for  them,  nor  request  them,  must 
nevertheless  happen  in  their  appointed  time,  yet  they  ought  to 
be  the  objects  of  our  wishes,  and  the  subjects  of  our  prayers. 
And  such  petitions  it  will  be  highly  proper  for  us  to  offer,  that 
we  may  testify  and  profess  ourselves  to  be  the  servants  and 
sons  of  God  ;  manifesting  the  sincerest  devotedness,  and  mak- 
ing the  most  zealous  efforts  in  our  power  for  advancing  the 
honour  which  is  due  to  him,  both  as  a  Master  and  as  a  Father. 
Persons,  therefore,  who  are  not  incited,  by  this  ardent  zeal  for 
promoting  the  glory  of  God,  to  pray,  that  his  name  may  be 

(n)  Psalm  ciii.  20. 


hallowed,  that  his  kingdom  may  come,  and  that  his  will  may- 
be done,  are  not  to  be  numbered  among  his  sons  and  servants  ; 
and  as  all  these  things  will  be  accomplished  in  opposition  to 
their  inclinations,  so  they  will  contribute  to  their  confusion 
and  destruction. 

XLIV.  Next  follows  the  second  part  of  the  prayer,  in  which 
we  descend  to  our  own  interests ;  not  that  we  must  dismiss  all 
thoughts  of  tJie  Divine  glory,  (which,  according  to  Paul,  (o) 
should  be  regarded  even  in  eating  and  drinking,)  and  only  seek 
what  is  advantageous  to  ourselves  ;  but  we  have  already  an- 
nounced that  this  is  the  distinction  —  that  God,  by  exclu- 
sively claiming  three  petitions,  absorbs  us  entirely  in  the  con- 
sideration of  himself,  that  thus  he  may  prove  our  piety  ;  after- 
wards he  permits  us  to  attend  to  our  own  interests,  yet  on  this 
condition,  that  the  end  of  all  our  requests  be  the  illustration  of 
his  glory,  by  whatever  benefits  he  confers  on  us,  since  nothing 
is  more  reasonable  than  that  we  live  and  die  to  him.  But  the 
first  petition  of  the  second  part.  Give  us  this  day  our  daily 
BREAD,  is  a  general  request  to  God  for  a  supply  of  all  our  corpo- 
real wants  in  the  present  state,  not  only  for  food  and  clothing, 
but  also  for  every  thing  which  he  sees  to  be  conducive  to 
our  good,  that  we  may  eat  our  bread  in  peace.  By  this  we 
briefly  surrender  ourselves  to  his  care,  and  commit  ourselves  to 
his  providence,  that  he  may  feed,  nourish,  and  preserve  us. 
For  our  most  benevolent  Father  disdains  not  to  receive  even 
our  body  into  his  charge  and  protection,  that  he  may  exercise 
our  faith  in  these  minute  circumstances,  while  we  expect  every 
thing  from  him,  even  down  to  a  crumb  of  bread  and  a  drop  of 
water.  For  since  it  is  a  strange  effect  of  our  iniquity,  to  be 
affected  and  distressed  with  greater  solicitude  for  the  body  than 
for  the  soul,  many,  who  venture  to  confide  to  God  the  interests  of 
their  souls,  are  nevertheless  still  solicitous  concerning  the  body, 
still  anxious  what  they  shall  eat  and  what  they  shall  wear  ;  and 
unless  they  have  an  abundance  of  corn,  wine,  and  oil,  for  the 
supply  of  their  future  wants,  tremble  with  fear.  Of  so  much 
greater  importance  to  us  is  the  shadow  of  this  transitory  life, 
than  that  eternal  immortality.  But  they  who,  confiding  in 
God,  have  once  cast  off  that  anxiety  for  the  concerns  of  the 
body,  expect  likewise  to  receive  from  him  superior  blessings, 
even  salvation  and  eternal  life.  It  is  therefore  no  trivial  exer- 
cise of  faith,  to  expect  from  God  those  things  which  otherwise 
fill  us  with  so  much  anxiety  ;  nor  is  it  a  small  proficiency  when 
we  have  divested  ourselves  of  this  infidelity,  which  is  almost 
universally  interwoven  with  the  human  constitution.  The 
speculations  of  some,  concerning  supernatural  bread,  appear  to 

(o)  1  Cor.  X.  31. 
VOL.    II.  17 

130  INSTITUTES    OP    THE  [bOOK    III. 

me  not  very  consonant  to  the  meaning  of  Christ ;  for  if  we  did 
not  ascribe  to  God  the  character  of  our  Supporter  even  in  this 
transitory  Hfe,  our  prayer  would  be  defective.  The  reason  which 
they  allege  has  too  much  profanity ;  that  it  is  unbecoming  for 
the  children  of  God,  who  ought  to  be  spiritual,  not  only  to 
devote  their  own  attention  to  terrestrial  cares,  but  also  to  in- 
volve God  in  the  same  anxieties  with  themselves;  as  though, 
truly,  his  benediction  and  paternal  favour  were  not  conspicuous 
even  in  our  sustenance  ;  or  there  were  no  meaning  in  the 
assertion,  that  "godliness  hath  promise  of  the  life  that  now  is, 
and  of  that  which  is  to  come."  {p)  Now,  though  remission  of 
sins  is  of  much  greater  value  than  corporeal  aliments,  yet 
Christ  has  given  the  first  place  to  the  inferior  blessing,  that  he 
might  gradually  raise  us  to  the  two  remaining  petitions,  which 
properly  pertain  to  the  heavenly  life  ;  in  which  he  has  con- 
sulted our  dulness.  We  are  commanded  to  ask  "  our  bread," 
that  we  may  be  content  with  the  portion  which  our  heavenly 
Father  deigns  to  allot  us,  nor  practise  any  illicit  arts  for  the 
love  of  lucre.  In  the  mean  time,  it  must  be  understood  that  it 
becomes  ours  by  a  title  of  donation  ;  because  neither  our  in- 
dustry, nor  our  labour,  nor  our  hands,  (as  is  observed  by  Mo- 
ses,) (</)  acquire  any  thing  for  us  of  themselves,  when  unat- 
tended by  the  Divine  blessing ;  and  that  even  an  abundance 
of  bread  would  not  be  of  the  least  service  to  us,  unless  it  were 
by  the  Divine  power  converted  into  nourishment.  And  there- 
fore this  liberality  of  God  is  equally  as  necessary  to  the  rich  as 
to  the  poor;  for  though  their  barns  and  cellars  were  full,  they 
would  faint  with  hunger  and  thirst,  unless  through  his  good- 
ness they  enjoyed  their  food.  The  expression  "  this  day," 
or  "  day  by  day,"  as  it  is  in  the  other  Evangelist,  and  the 
epithet  daily,  restrain  the  inordinate  desire  of  transitory  things, 
with  which  we  are  often  violently  inflamed,  and  which  leads 
to  other  evils  ;  since  if  we  have  a  greater  abundance,  we  fondly 
lavish  it  away  in  pleasure,  delights,  ostentation,  and  other  kinds 
of  luxury.  Therefore  we  are  enjoined  to  ask  only  as  much  as 
will  supply  our  necessity,  and  as  it  were  for  the  present  day, 
with  this  confidence,  that  our  heavenly  Father,  after  having 
fed  us  to-day,  will  not  fail  us  to-morrow.  Whatever  affluence, 
then,  we  possess,  even  when  our  barns  and  cellars  are  full,  yet 
it  behoves  us  always  to  ask  for  our  daily  bread  ;  because  it 
must  be  considered  as  an  undeniable  truth,  that  all  property  is 
nothing,  any  further  than  the  Lord,  by  the  effusions  of  his 
favour,  blesses  it  with  continual  improvement  ;  and  that  even 
what  we  have  in  our  possession  is  not  our  own,  any  further  than 
as  he  hourly  bestows  on  us  some  portion  of  it,  and  grants  us  the 

(/>)  1  Tim.  iv.  8.  (?)  Lev.  -xxvi.  20. 


use  of  it.  Since  the  pride  of  man  does  not  easily  suffer  itself 
to  be  convinced  of  this,  the  Lord  declares  that  he  has  given  to 
all  ages  an  eminent  proof  of  it,  by  feeding  his  people  with 
manna  in  the  desert,  in  order  to  apprize  us  "  that  man  doth  not 
live  by  bread  only,  but  by  every  Avord  that  proceedeth  out  of 
his  mouth  ;  "  (r)  which  implies,  that  it  is  his  power  alone  by 
which  our  life  and  strength  are  sustained,  although  he  commu- 
nicates it  to  us  by  corporeal  means  ;  as  he  is  accustomed  to 
teach  us  likewise  by  an  opposite  example,  when  he  breaks,  at 
his  pleasure,  the  strength  (and,  as  he  himself  calls  it,  "  the 
staff")  of  bread,  so  that  though  men  eat  they  pine  with  hunger, 
and  though  they  drink  are  parched  with  thirst,  (s)  Now,  they 
who  are  not  satisfied  with  daily  bread,  but  whose  avidity  is 
insatiable,  and  whose  desires  are  unbounded,  and  they  who  are 
satiated  with  their  abundance,  and  think  themselves  secure 
amid  their  immense  riches,  and  who  nevertheless  supplicate  the 
Divine  Being  in  this  petition,  are  guilty  of  mocking  him.  For 
the  former  ask  what  they  would  not  wish  to  obtain,  and  even 
what  most  of  all  they  abominate,  that  is,  daily  bread  only  ; 
they  conceal  from  God,  as  much  as  they  can,  their  avaricious 
disposition  ;  whereas  true  prayer  ought  to  pour  out  before  him 
the  whole  mind,  and  all  the  inmost  secrets  of  the  soul ;  and  the 
latter  implore  what  they  are  far  from  expecting  to  receive  from 
him,  what  they  think  they  have  in  their  own  possession.  In 
its  being  called  "  ours,"  the  Divine  goodness  is,  as  we  have 
observed,  the  more  conspicuous,  since  it  makes  that  ours,  to 
which  we  have  no  claim  of  right.  Yet  we  must  not  reject  the 
explanation  which  I  have  likewise  hinted  at,  that  it  intends 
also  such  as  is  acquired  by  just  and  innocent  labour,  and  not 
procured  by  acts  of  deception  and  rapine  ;  because,  whatever 
we  acquire  by  any  criminal  methods,  is  never  our  own,  but 
belongs  to  others.  Our  praying  that  it  may  be  "  given  "  to  us 
signifies  that  it  is  the  simple  and  gratuitous  donation  of  God, 
from  what  quarter  soever  we  receive  it ;  even  when  it  most  of 
all  appears  to  be  obtained  by  our  own  skill  and  industry,  and  to 
be  procured  by  our  own  hands ;  since  it  is  solely  the  effect  of 
his  blessing,  that  our  labours  are  attended  with  success. 

XLV.  It  follows  —  Forgive  us  our  debts;  in  which  peti- 
tion, and  the  next,  Christ  has  comprised  whatever  relates  to 
the  heavenly  life ;  as  in  these  two  parts  consists  the  spiritual 
covenant  which  God  has  made  for  the  salvation  of  his  Church 
—  "I  will  write  my  law  in  their  hearts,  and  will  pardon  their 
iniquities."  (t)  Here  Christ  begins  with  remission  of  sins  :  im- 
mediately after,  he  subjoins  a  second  favour  —  that  God  would 
defend  us  by  the  power,  and  support  us  by  the  aid,  of  his  Spirit, 

(r)  Deut.  viii.  3.     Matt.  iv.  4.  (s)  Lev.  xxvi.  26 

(t)  Jer.  xxxi.  33,  34 ;  xxxiii.  8. 

132  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

to  enable  us  to  stand  unconquered  against  all  temptations.  Sins 
he  calls  debts,  because  we  owe  the  penalty  of  them  — a  debt  we 
are  altogether  incapable  of  discharging,  unless  we  are  released 
by  this  remission,  which  is  a  pardon  flowing  from  his  gratui- 
tous mercy,  when  he  freely  cancels  these  debts  without  any 
payment  from  us,  being  satisfied  by  his  own  mercy  in  Christ, 
who  has  once  given  himself  for  our  redemption.  Those,  there- 
fore, who  rely  on  God's  being  satisfied  with  their  own  merits,  or 
the  merits  of  others,  and  persuade  themselves  that  remission  of 
sins  is  purchased  by  these  satisfactions,  have  no  interest  in  this 
gratuitous  forgiveness  ;  and  while  they  call  upon  God  in  this 
form,  they  are  only  subscribing  their  own  accusation,  and  even 
sealing  their  condemnation  with  their  own  testimony.  For 
they  confess  themselves  debtors,  unless  they  are  discharged  by 
the  benefit  of  remission,  which  nevertheless  they  accept  not, 
but  rather  refuse,  while  they  obtrude  upon  God  their  own 
merits  and  satisfactions.  For  in  this  way  they  do  not  implore 
his  mercy,  but  appeal  to  his  judgment.  They  who  amuse 
themselves  with  dreams  of  perfection,  superseding  the  necessity 
of  praying  for  pardon,  may  have  disciples  whom  itching  ears 
lead  into  delusions ;  but  it  must  be  clear  that  all  whom  they 
gain  are  perverted  from  Christ,  since  he  teaches  all  to  confess 
their  guilt,  and  receives  none  but  sinners ;  not  that  he  would 
flatter  and  encourage  sins,  but  because  he  knew  that  believers 
are  never  wholly  free  from  the  vices  of  their  flesh,  but  always 
remain  obnoxious  to  the  judgment  of  God.  It  ought,  indeed, 
to  be  the  object  of  our  desires  and  strenuous  exertions,  that, 
having  fully  discharged  every  part  of  our  duty,  we  may  truly 
congratulate  ourselves  before  God  on  being  pure  from  every 
stain ;  but  as  it  pleases  God  to  restore  his  image  within  us  by 
degrees,  so  that  some  contagion  always  remains  in  our  flesh, 
the  remedy  ought  never  to  be  neglected.  Now,  if  Christ,  by 
the  authority  given  him  by  the  Father,  enjoins  us,  as  long  as 
Ave  live,  to  have  recourse  to  prayer  for  the  pardon  of  guilt,  who 
will  tolerate  the  new  teachers,  who  endeavour  to  dazzle  the 
eyes  of  the  simple  with  a  visionary  phantom  of  perfect  inno- 
cence, and  fill  them  with  a  confidence  in  the  possibility  of 
their  being  delivered  from  all  sin  ?  which,  according  to  John, 
is  no  other  than  making  God  a  liar,  (m)  At  the  same  time,  also, 
these  worthless  men,  by  obliterating  one  article,  mutilate,  and 
so  totally  invalidate,  the  covenant  of  God,  in  which  we  have 
seen  our  salvation  is  contained;  being  thus  guilty  not  only  of 
sacrilege  by  separating  things  so  united,  but  also  of  impiety  and 
cruelty,  by  overwhelming  miserable  souls  with  despair,  and  of 
treachery  to  themselves  and  others,  by  contracting  a  habit  of 
carelessness,   in  diametrical   opposition  to   the  Divine  mercy. 

(m)  1  John  i.  10. 


The  objection  of  some,  that  in  wishing  the  advent  of  God's  king- 
dom, we  desire  at  the  same  time  the  abolition  of  sin,  is  too 
puerile  ;  because,  in  the  first  part  of  the  prayer,  we  have  an  ex- 
hibition of  the  highest  perfection,  but  here  of  infirmity.  Thus 
these  two  things  are  perfectly  consistent,  that  in  aspiring  to- 
wards the  mark  we  may  not  neglect  the  remedies  required  by 
our  necessity.  Lastly,  we  pray  that  we  may  be  forgiven  as 
WE  FORGIVE  OUR  DEBTORS  ;  that  is,  as  we  forgive  and  pardon 
all  who  have  ever  injured  us,  either  by  unjust  actions  or  by 
contumelious  language.  Not  that  it  is  our  province  to  forgive 
the  guilt  of  sin  and  transgression  ;  this  is  the  prerogative  of 
God  alone  :  our  forgiveness  consists  in  divesting  the  mind  of 
anger,  enmity,  and  desire  of  revenge,  and  losing  the  memory 
of  injuries  by  a  voluntary  forgetfulness.  Wherefore  we  must 
not  pray  to  God  for  forgiveness  of  sins,  unless  we  also  forgive 
all  the  offences  and  injuries  of  others  against  us,  either  present 
or  past.  But  if  we  retain  any  enmities  in  our  minds,  meditate 
acts  of  revenge,  and  seek  opportunities  of  annoyance,  and  even 
if  we  do  not  endeavour  to  obtain  reconciliation  with  our  ene- 
mies, to  oblige  them  by  all  kind  offices,  and  to  render  them 
our  friends,  —  we  beseech  God,  by  this  petition,  not  to  grant  us 
remission  of  sins.  For  we  supplicate  him  to  grant  to  us  what  we 
grant  to  others.  This  is  praying  him  not  to  grant  it  to  us,  unless 
we  grant  it  also.  What  do  persons  of  this  description  gain  by 
their  prayers  but  a  heavier  judgment  ?  Lastly,  it  must  be 
observed,  that  this  is  not  a  condition,  that  he  would  forgive  us 
as  we  forgive  our  debtors,  because  we  can  merit  his  forgive- 
ness of  us  by  our  forgiveness  of  others,  as  though  it  described 
the  cause  of  his  forgiveness ;  but,  by  this  expression,  the  Lord 
intended,  partly  to  comfort  the  weakness  of  our  faith ;  for  he 
has  added  this  as  a  sign,  that  we  may  be  as  certainly  assured 
of  remission  of  sins  being  granted  us  by  him,  as  we  are  certain 
and  conscious  of  our  granting  it  to  others ;  if,  at  the  same  time, 
our  minds  be  freed  and  purified  from  all  hatred,  envy,  and  re- 
venge ;  partly  by  this,  as  a  criterion,  he  expunges  from  the 
number  of  his  children,  those  who,  hasty  to  revenge  and 
difficult  to  forgive,  maintain  inveterate  enmities,  and  cherish 
in  their  own  hearts  towards  others,  that  indignation  which 
they  deprecate  from  themselves,  that  they  may  not  presume  to 
invoke  him  as  their  Father.  Which  is  also  clearly  expressed 
by  Luke  in  Christ's  own  words. 

XLVL  The  sixth  petition  is,  Lead  us  not  into  tempta- 
tion, BUT  deliver  us  FROM  EVIL.  This,  as  we  have  said,  corre- 
sponds to  the  promise  respecting  the  law  of  God  to  be  engraven 
in  our  hearts.  But  because  our  obedience  to  God  is  not  with- 
out continual  warfare,  and  severe  and  arduous  conflicts,  we  here 
pray  for  arms,  and  assistance  to  enable  us  to  gain  the  victory. 

134  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

This  suggests  to  us  our  necessity,  not  only  of  the  grace  of  the 
Spirit  within  us  to  soften,  bend,  and  direct  our  hearts  to  obe- 
dience to  God,  but  also  of  his  aid  to  render  us  invincible,  in 
opposition  to  all  the  stratagems  and  violent  assaults  of  Satan. 
Now,  the  forms  of  temptations  are  many  and  various.  For  the 
corrupt  conceptions  of  the  mind,  provoking  us  to  transgressions 
of  the  law,  whether  suggested  by  our  own  concupiscence  or 
excited  by  the  devil,  are  temptations ;  and  things  not  evil  in 
themselves,  nevertheless  become  temptations  through  the  sub- 
tlety of  the  devil,  when  they  are  obtruded  on  our  eyes  in  such 
a  manner  that  their  intervention  occasions  our  seduction  or 
declension  from  God.  And  these  temptations  are  either  from 
prosperous,  or  from  adverse  events.  From  prosperous  ones,  as 
riches,  power,  honours  ;  which  generally  dazzle  men's  eyes  by 
their  glitter  and  external  appearance  of  goodness,  and  insnare 
them  with  their  blandishments,  that,  caught  with  such  delusions 
and  intoxicated  with  such  delights,  they  forget  their  God.  From 
unpropitious  ones,  as  poverty,  reproaches,  contempt,  afflictions, 
and  other  things  of  this  kind  ;  overcome  with  the  bitterness  and 
difhculty  of  which,  they  fall  into  despondency,  cast  away  faith 
and  hope,  and  at  length  become  altogether  alienated  from  God. 
To  both  these  kinds  of  temptations  which  assail  us,  whether 
kindled  within  us  by  our  concupiscence,  or  presented  to  us  by 
the  craft  of  Satan,  we  pray  our  heavenly  Father  not  to  permit 
us  to  yield,  but  rather  to  sustain  and  raise  us  up  with  his  hand, 
that,  strong  in  his  might,  we  may  be  able  to  stand  firm  against 
all  the  assaults  of  our  malignant  enemy,  whatever  imaginations 
he  may  inject  into  our  minds  ;  and  also,  that  whatever  is  pre- 
sented to  us  on  either  quarter,  we  may  convert  it  to  our  benefit  ; 
that  is,  by  not  being  elated  with  prosperity  or  dejected  with 
adversity.  Yet  we  do  not  here  pray  for  an  entire  exemption 
from  all  temptations,  which  we  very  much  need,  to  excite, 
stimulate,  and  animate  us,  lest  we  should  grow  torpid  with  too 
much  rest.  For  it  was  not  without  reason  that  David  wished 
to  be  tempted  or  tried ;  nor  is  it  without  cause  that  the  Lord 
daily  tries  his  elect,  chastising  them  by  ignominy,  poverty,  tribu- 
lation, and  the  cross  in  various  forms.  But  the  temptations  of 
God  are  widely  dilferent  from  those  of  Satan.  Satan  tempts 
to  overthrow,  condemn,  confound,  and  destroy.  But  God,  that, 
by  proving  his  people,  he  may  make  a  trial  of  their  sincerity, 
to  confirm  their  strength  by  exercising  it,  to  mortify,  purify, 
and  refine  their  flesh,  which,  without  such  restraints,  would 
run  into  the  greatest  excesses.  Besides,  Satan  attacks  persons 
unarmed  and  unprepared,  to  overwhelm  the  unwary.  "  God, 
with  the  temptation,  also  makes  a  way  to  escape,  that  they 
may  be  able  to  bear  "  whatever  he  brings  upon  them,  {y)     By 

(?/)  1  Cor.  X.  13. 


the  word  evil,  whether  we  understand  the  devil  or  sin,  is  of  Uttle 
importance.  Satan  himseU',  indeed,  is  tiie  enemy  that  lies  in 
wait  lor  our  lite  ;  but  sin  is  the  weapon  with  which  he  seeks 
our  destruction.  Our  petition  therefore  is,  that  we  may  not 
be  overwhelmed  and  conquered  by  any  temptations,  but  that 
we  may  stand,  strong  in  the  power  of  the  Lord,  against 
all  adverse  powers  that  assault  us,  which  is  not  to  submit 
to  temptations  ;  that  being  taken  into  his  custody  and  charge, 
and  being  secure  in  his  protection,  we  may  persevere  micon- 
quered,  and  rise  superior  to  sin,  death,  the  gates  of  hell,  and 
the  whole  kingdom  of  the  devil.  This  is  being  delivered 
from  evil.  Here  it  must  also  be  carefully  remarked,  that  it  is 
not  in  our  power  to  contend  with  so  powerful  an  enemy  as  the 
devil,  and  sustain  the  violence  of  his  assaults.  Otherwise  it 
would  be  useless,  or  insulting,  to  supplicate  from  God  what  we 
already  possessed  in  ourselves.  Certainly,  they  who  prepare 
themselves  for  such  a  combat  with  self-confidence,  are  not 
sufficiently  aware  of  the  skill  and  prowess  of  the  enemy  that 
they  have  to  meet.  Now,  we  pray  to  be  delivered  from  his 
power,  as  from  the  mouth  of  a  ravenous  and  raging  lion,  just 
about  to  tear  us  with  his  teeth  and  claws,  and  to  swallow  us 
down  his  throat,  unless  the  Lord  snatch  us  from  the  jaws  of 
death ;  knowing,  at  the  same  time,  that  if  the  Lord  shall  be 
present  and  fight  for  us  while  we  are  silent,  in  his  strength 
"  we  shall  do  valiantly."  (z)  Let  others  confide  as  they  please 
in  the  native  abilities  and  powers  of  free-will,  which  they 
suppose  themselves  to  possess,  —  let  it  be  sufficient  for  us,  to 
stand  and  be  strong  in  the  power  of  God  alone.  But  this 
petition  comprehends  more  than  at  first  appears.  For  if  the 
Spirit  of  God  is  our  strength  for  fighting  the  battle  with  Satan, 
we  shall  not  be  able  to  gain  the  victory,  till,  being  full  of  him, 
we  shall  have  laid  aside  all  the  infirmity  of  our  flesh.  When 
we  pray  for  deliverance  from  Satan  and  sin,  therefore,  we  pray 
to  be  frequently  enriched  with  new  accessions  of  Divine  grace ; 
till,  being  quite  filled  Avith  them,  we  may  be  able  to  triimiph 
over  all  evil.  To  some  there  appears  a  difficulty  and  harshness 
in  our  petition  to  God,  that  he  will  not  lead  us  into  temptation, 
whereas,  according  to  James,  it  is  contrary  to  his  nature  for 
him  to  tempt  us.  (a)  But  this  objection  has  already  been 
partly  answered,  because  our  own  lust  is  properly  the  cause  of 
all  the  temptations  that  overcome  us,  and  therefore  we  are 
charged  with  the  guilt.  Nor  does  James  intend  any  other  than  to 
assert  the  futility  and  injustice  of  transferring  to  God  the  vices 
which  we  are  constrained  to  impute  to  ourselves,  because  we 
are  conscious  of  our  being  guilty  of  them.     But  notwithstanding 

(z)  Psalin  k.  12.  (a)  James  i.  13, 14. 

136  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [ 


this,  God  may,  when  he  sees  fit,  deliver  us  to  Satan,  abandon 
us  to  a  reprobate  mind  and  sordid  passions,  and  so  lead  us  into 
temptations,  by  a  righteous  yet  often  secret  judgment ;  the 
cause  being  frequently  concealed  from  man,  but,  at  the  same 
time,  well  known  to  him.  Whence  it  is  inferred,  that  there  is 
no  impropriety  in  this  mode  of  expression,  if  we  are  persuaded 
that  there  is  any  meaning  in  his  frequent  threatenings,  that  he 
will  manifest  his  vengeance  on  the  reprobate,  by  smiting  them 
with  blindness  and  hardness  of  heart. 

XLVII.  These  three  petitions,  in  which  we  particularly  com- 
mend to  God  ourselves  and  all  our  concerns,  evidently  prove, 
what  we  have  before  asserted,  that  the  prayers  of  Christians 
ought  to  be  public,  and  to  regard  the  public  edification  of 
the  Church,  and  the  advancement  of  the  communion  of  be- 
lievers. For  each  individual  does  not  supplicate  the  gift  of 
any  favour  to  himself  in  particular ;  but  we  all  in  common 
pray  for  our  bread,  the  remission  of  our  sins,  that  we  may  not 
be  led  into  temptation,  that  we  may  be  delivered  from  evil. 
The  cause  is  likewise  subjoined,  which  gives  us  such  great 
boldness  in  asking,  and  confidence  of  obtaining  ;  which,  though 
not  to  be  found  in  the  Latin  copies,  yet  appears  too  apposite  to 
this  place  to  be  omitted  —  namely.  His  is  the  kingdom,  and 
THE  POWER,  AND  THE  GLORY  FOR  EVER,  This  is  a  solid  and 
secure  basis  for  our  faith ;  for  if  our  prayers  were  to  be  recom- 
mended to  God  by  our  own  merit,  who  could  dare  to  utter  a 
word  in  his  presence  ?  Now,  all  miserable,  unworthy,  and 
destitute  as  we  are  of  every  recommendation,  yet  we  shall 
never  want  an  argument  or  plea  for  our  prayers :  our  confi- 
dence can  never  forsake  us  ;  for  our  Father  can  never  be  de- 
prived of  his  kingdom,  power,  and  glory.  The  whole  is  con- 
cluded with  Amen  ;  which  expresses  our  ardent  desire  to  obtain 
the  blessings  supplicated  of  God,  and  confirms  our  hope  that 
all  these  things  are  already  obtained,  and  will  certainly  be 
granted  to  us ;  because  they  are  promised  by  God,  who  is  in- 
capable of  deception.  And  this  agrees  with  that  form  of  peti- 
tion already  quoted  —  "Do  this,  O  Lord,  for  thy  name's  sake, 
not  for  our  sake,  or  for  our  righteousness  ;  "  in  which  the  saints 
not  only  express  the  end  of  their  prayers,  but  acknowledge  that 
they  are  unworthy  to  obtain  it,  unless  God  derive  the  cause 
from  himself,  and  that  their  confidence  of  success  arises  solely 
from  his  nature. 

XLVIII.  Whatever  we  ought,  or  are  even  at  liberty,  to 
seek  from  God,  is  stated  to  us  in  this  model  and  directory  for 
prayer,  given  by  that  best  of  masters,  Christ,  whom  the  Father 
has  set  over  us  as  our  Teacher,  and  to  Avhom  alone  lie  has  en- 
joined us  to  listen,  (b)     For  he  was  always  his  eternal  wisdom, 

{b)  MaU.  xvii.  5. 


and  being  made  man,  was  given  to  men  as  the  Angel  of  great 
counsel,  (c)  And  this  prayer  is  so  comprehensive  and  com- 
plete, that  whatever  addition  is  made  of  any  thing  extraneous 
or  foreign,  not  capable  of  being  referred  to  it,  is  impious  and 
unworthy  of  the  approbation  of  God.  For  in  this  summary  he 
has  prescribed  what  is  worthy  of  him,  what  is  acceptable  to 
him,  what  is  necessary  for  us,  and,  in  a  word,  what  he  chooses 
to  bestow.  Wherefore  those  who  presume  to  go  beyond  it, 
and  to  ask  of  God  any  thing  else,  in  the  first  place,  are  deter- 
mined to  make  some  addition  of  their  own  to  the  wisdom  of 
God,  which  cannot  be  done  without  folly  and  blasphemy ;  in 
the  next  place,  despising  the  limits  fixed  by  the  will  of  God, 
they  are  led  far  astray  by  their  own  irregular  desires ;  and  in 
the  last  place,  they  will  never  obtain  any  thing,  since  they 
pray  without  faith.  And  there  is  no  doubt  that  all  prayers  of 
this  kiud  are  made  without  faith,  because  they  are  not  sanc- 
tioned by  the  word  of  God,  the  only  basis  on  which  faith  can 
stand.  But  they  who  neglect  the  Master's  rule,  and  indulge 
their  own  desires,  not  only  deviate  from  the  word  of  God.  but 
make  all  possible  opposition  against  it.  With  equal  beauty  and 
truth,  therefore,  TertuUian  has  called  this  a  legitimate  prayer, 
tacitly  implying,  that   all  otiiers  are   irregular  and  unlawful. 

XLIX.  We  would  not  here  be  understood,  as  if  we  were 
confined  to  this  form  of  prayer,  without  the  liberty  of  changing 
a  word  or  syllable.  For  the  Scriptures  contain  many  prayers, 
expressed  in  words  very  different  from  this,  yet  written  by  the 
same  Spirit,  and  very  profitable  for  our  use.  Many,  which 
have  little  verbal  resemblance  to  it,  are  continually  suggested 
to  believers  by  the  same  Spirit.  -We  only  mean  by  these  ob- 
servations, that  no  one  should  even  seek,  expect,  or  ask  for  any 
thing  that  is  not  summarily  comprehended  in  this  prayer, 
though  there  may  be  a  diversity  of  expression,  without  any 
variation  of  sense.  As  it  is  certain  that  all  the  prayers  con- 
tained in  the  Scriptures,  or  proceeding  from  pious  hearts,  are 
referred  to  this,  so  it  is  impossible  to  find  one  any  where  which 
can  surpass  or  even  equal  the  perfection  of  this.  Here  is 
nothing  omitted  which  ought  to  be  recollected  for  the  praises 
of  God,  nothing  that  should  occur  to  the  mind  of  man  for  his  own 
advantage  ;  and  the  whole  is  so  complete,  as  justly  to  inspire 
universal  despair  of  attempting  any  improvement.  To  con- 
clude ;  let  us  remember,  that  this  is  the  teaching  of  Divine 
wisdom,  which  taught  what  it  willed;  and  willed  what  is 

L.  But  though  we  have  before  said  that  we  ought  to  be 
always  aspiring  towards  God  with  our   minds,  and  praying 

(c)  Isaiah  xi.  2. 
VOL.    II.  18 

138  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

without  intermission,  yet  as  our  weakness  requires  many  as- 
sistances, and  our  indolence  needs  to  be  stimulated,  we  ought 
every  one  of  us,  for  the  sake  of  regularity,  to  appoint  particular 
hours  which  should  not  elapse  without  prayer,  and  which 
should  witness  all  the  affections  of  the  mind  entirely  engaged 
in  this  exercise ;  as,  when  we  rise  in  the  morning,  before  we 
enter  on  the  business  of  the  day,  when  we  sit  down  to  meat, 
when  we  have  been  fed  by  the  Divine  blessing,  when  we  re- 
tire to  rest.  This  must  not  be  a  superstitious  observance  of 
hours,  by  which,  as  if  discharging  our  debt  to  God,  we  may 
fancy  ourselves  discharged  from  all  obligation  for  the  remain- 
ing hours ;  but  a  discipline  for  our  weakness,  which  may  thus, 
from  time  to  time,  be  exercised  and  stimulated.  It  must  es- 
pecially be  the  object  of  our  solicitous  care,  whenever  we  are 
oppressed,  or  see  others  oppressed,  with  adversity,  immediately 
to  resort  to  him  with  celerity,  not  of  body,  but  of  mind  ;  second- 
ly, to  suffer  no  prosperity  of  our  own  or  others  to  pass  with- 
out testifying  our  acknowledgment  of  his  hand  by  praise  and 
thanksgiving  ;  lastly,  we  must  carefully  observe  this  in  every 
prayer,  that  we  entertain  not  the  thought  of  binding  God  to  cer- 
tain circumstances,  or  prescribing  to  him  the  time,  the  place,  or 
the  manner  of  his  proceedings.  As  we  are  taught  by  this  prayer 
to  fix  no  law,  to  impose  no  condition  on  him,  but  to  leave  it  to 
his  will  to  do  what  he  intends,  in  the  manner,  at  the  time, 
and  in  the  place  he  pleases,  therefore,  before  we  form  a  peti- 
tion for  ourselves,  we  first  pray  that  his  will  may  be  done ; 
thereby  submitting  our  will  to  his,  that,  being,  as  it  were,  bridled 
and  restrained,  it  may  not  presume  to  regulate  God,  but  may 
constitute  him  the  arbiter  and  ruler  of  all  its  desires. 

LI,  If,  with  minds  composed  to  this  obedience,  we  suffer 
ourselves  to  be  governed  by  the  laws  of  Divine  Providence,  we 
shall  easily  learn  to  persevere  in  prayer,  and  with  suspended 
desires  to  wait  patiently  for  the  Lord ;  assured,  though  he  does 
not  discover  himself,  yet  that  he  is  always  near  us,  and  in  his 
own  time  will  declare  that  his  ears  have  not  been  deaf  to  those 
prayers  which,  to  human  apprehension,  seemed  to  be  neglected. 
Now,  this,  if  God  do  not  at  any  time  answer  our  first  prayers, 
will  be  an  immediate  consolation,  to  prevent  our  sinking  into 
despair,  like  those  who,  actuated  only  by  their  own  ardour,  call 
upon  God  in  such  a  manner,  that  if  he  do  not  attend  to  their 
first  transports,  and  afford  them  present  aid,  they  at  once 
imagine  him  to  be  displeased  and  angry  with  them,  and,  casting 
away  all  hope  of  succeeding  in  their  prayers,  cease  to  call  upon 
him.  But  deferring  our  hope  with  a  well-tempered  equanimity, 
let  us  rather  practise  the  perseverance  so  highly  recommended 
to  us  in  the  Scriptures.  For  in  the  Psalms  we  may  frequently 
observe   how   David   and   other   faithful  men,   when,   almost 


wearied  with  praying,  they  seemed  to  beat  the  air,  and  God 
seemed  deaf  to  their  petitions,  yet  did  not  desist  from  praying  ; 
because  the  authority  of  the  Divine  word  is  not  maintained, 
unless  it  be  fully  credited,  notwithstanding  the  appearance  of 
any  circumstances  to  the  contrary.  Nor  let  us  tempt  God,  and 
provoke  him  against  us  by  wearying  him  with  our  presump- 
tion ;  which  is  the  practice  of  many  who  merely  bargain  with 
God  on  a  certain  condition,  and  as  though  he  were  subservient 
to  their  passions,  bind  him  with  laws  of  their  own  stipulation  ; 
with  which  unless  he  immediately  complies,  they  give  way  to 
anger  and  fretfulness,  to  cavils,  and  murmurs,  and  rage.  To 
such  persons,  therefore,  he  frequently  grants  in  his  wrath  what 
he  denies  in  mercy  to  others.  This  is  exemplified  in  the 
children  of  Israel,  for  whom  it  had  been  better  for  the  Lord  not 
to  have  heard  them,  than  for  them  to  swallow  his  indignation 
with  the  meat  that  he  sent  them,  {d) 

LII.  But  if,  after  long  waiting,  our  sense  neither  understands 
what  advance  we  have  made  by  praying,  nor  experiences  any 
advantage  resulting  from  it,  yet  our  faith  will  assure  us,  what 
cannot  be  perceived  by  sense,  that  we  have  obtained  what  was 
expedient  for  us,  since  the  Lord  so  frequently  and  so  certainly 
promises  to  take  care  of  our  troubles  when  they  have  been  once 
deposited  in  his  bosom.  And  thus  he  will  cause  us  to  pos- 
sess abundance  in  poverty,  and  consolation  in  affliction.  For 
though  all  things  fail  us,  yet  God  will  never  forsake  us ;  he 
cannot  disappoint  the  expectation  and  patience  of  his  people. 
He  will  amply  compensate  us  for  the  loss  of  all  others,  for  he 
comprehends  in  himself  all  blessings,  which  he  will  reveal  to  us 
at  the  day  of  judgment,  when  his  kingdom  will  be  fully  mani- 
fested. Besides,  though  God  grants  our  prayers,  he  does  not 
always  answer  them  according  to  the  express  form  of  the 
request ;  but  seeming  to  keep  us  in  suspense,  shows  by  un- 
known means  that  our  prayers  were  not  in  vain.  This  is  the 
meaning  of  these  words  of  John  :  "  If  we  know  that  he  heareth 
us,  whatsoever  we  ask,  we  know  that  we  have  the  petitions 
that  we  desired  of  him."  (e)  This  seems  to  be  a  feeble  super- 
fluity of  expression,  but  is  in  reality  a  very  useful  declaration, 
that  God,  even  when  he  does  not  comply  with  our  desires,  is 
nevertlieless  favourable  and  propitious  to  our  prayers,  so  that  a 
hope  depending  upon  his  word  can  never  disappoint  us.  Now, 
this  patience  is  very  necessary  to  support  believers,  who  would 
not  long  stand  unless  they  relied  upon  it.  For  the  Lord 
proves  his  people  with  heavy  trials,  and  exercises  them  with 
severity  ;  frequently  driving  them  to  various  kinds  of  extremi- 
ties, and  suffering  them  to  remain  in  them  a  long  time  before  he 

{d)  Num.  xi.  18,  33.  (e)  1  John  v.  15. 

140  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

grants  them  any  enjoyment  of  his  grace ;  and  as  Hannah  says, 
"  The  Lord  killeth,  and  maketh  alive  ;  he  bringeth  down  to 
the  grave,  and  bringeth  up."  (/)  In  such  distresses  must  they 
not  inevitably  faint  in  their  minds,  and  fall  into  despair,  unless, 
in  the  midst  of  their  affliction  and  desolation,  and  almost  death, 
they  were  revived  by  this  reflection,  that  God  regards  them, 
and  that  the  end  of  their  present  evils  is  approaching?  But 
though  they  rely  on  the  certainty  of  this  hope,  they  at  the  same 
time  cease  not  to  pray ;  because,  without  constant  perseverance 
in  prayer,  we  pray  to  no  purpose. 



The  covenant  of  life  not  being  equally  preached  to  all,  and 
among  those  to  whom  it  is  preached  not  always  finding  the 
same  reception,  this  diversity  discovers  the  wonderful  depth  of 
the  Divine  judgment.  Nor  is  it  to  be  doubted  that  this  variety 
also  follows,  subject  to  the  decision  of  God's  eternal  election. 
If  it  be  evidently  the  result  of  the  Divine  will,  that  salvation  is 
freely  offered  to  some,  and  others  are  prevented  from  attaining 
it,  —  this  immediately  gives  rise  to  important  and  difficult  ques- 
tions, which  are  incapable  of  any  other  explication,  than  by  the 
establishment  of  pious  minds  in  what  ought  to  be  received 
concerning  election  and  predestination  —  a  question,  in  the 
opinion  of  many,  full  of  perplexity  ;  for  they  consider  nothing 
more  mneasonable,  than  that,  of  the  common  mass  of  mankind, 
some  should  be  predestinated  to  salvation,  and  others  to  de- 
struction. But  how  unreasonably  they  perplex  themselves  will 
afterwards  appear  from  the  sequel  of  our  discourse.  Besides, 
the  very  obscurity  which  excites  such  dread,  not  only  displays 
the  utility  of  this  doctrine,  but  shows  it  to  be  productive  of  the 
most  delightful  benefit.  We  shall  never  be  clearly  convinced 
as  we  ought  to  be,  that  our  salvation  flows  from  the  fountain 
of  God's  free  mercy,  till  we  are  acquainted  with  his  eternal 
election,  which  illustrates  the  grace  of  God  by  this  comparison, 
that  he  adopts  not  all  promiscuously  to  the  hope  of  salvation, 
but  gives  to  some  what  he  refuses  to  others.  Ignorance  of  this 
principle  evidently  detracts  from  the  Divine  glory,  and  dimi- 

(/)  1  Sam.  ii.  6. 


nishes  real  humility.  But  according  to  Paul,  what  is  so  neces- 
sary to  be  known,  never  can  be  known,  unless  God,  without 
any  regard  to  works,  chooses  those  whom  he  has  decreed.  "  At 
this  present  time  also,  there  is  a  remnant  according  to  the 
election  of  grace.  And  if  by  grace,  then  it  is  no  more  of  works  ; 
otherwise,  grace  is  no  more  grace.  But  if  it  be  of  works,  then 
it  is  no  more  grace ;  otherwise,  work  is  no  more  work."  (g) 
If  we  need  to  be  recalled  to  the  origin  of  election,  to  prove  that 
we  obtain  salvation  from  no  other  source  than  the  mere  goodness 
of  God,  they  who  desire  to  extinguish  this  principle,  do  all 
they  can  to  obscure  what  ought  to  be  magnificently  and  loudly 
celebrated,  and  to  pluck  up  humility  by  the  roots.  In  ascribing 
the  salvation  of  the  remnant  of  the  people  to  the  election  of 
grace,  Paul  clearly  testifies,  that  it  is  then  only  known  that 
God  saves  whom  he  will  of  his  mere  good  pleasure,  and  does 
not  dispense  a  reward  to  which  there  can  be  no  claim.  They 
who  shut  the  gates  to  prevent  any  one  from  presuming  to 
approach  and  taste  this  doctrine,  do  no  less  injury  to  man  than 
to  God ;  for  nothing  else  will  be  suflicient  to  produce  in  us 
suitable  humility,  or  to  impress  us  with  a  due  sense  of  our  great 
obligations  to  God.  Nor  is  there  any  other  basis  for  solid 
confidence,  even  according  to  the  authority  of  Christ,  who,  to 
deliver  us  from  all  fear,  and  render  us  invincible  amidst  so  many 
dangers,  snares,  and  deadly  conflicts,  promises  to  preserve  in 
safety  all  whom  the  Father  has  committed  to  his  care.  Whence 
we  infer,  that  they  who  know  not  themselves  to  be  God's 
peculiar  people  will  be  tortured  with  continual  anxiety ;  and 
therefore,  that  the  interest  of  all  believers,»as  well  as  their 
own,  is  very  badly  consulted  by  those  who,  blind  to  the  three 
advantages  we  have  remarked,  would  wholly  remove  the  foun- 
dation of  our  salvation.  And  hence  the  Church  rises  to  our 
view,  which  otherwise,  as  Bernard  justly  observes,  could  neither 
be  discovered  nor  recognized  among  creatures,  being  in  two 
respects  wonderfully  concealed  in  the  bosom  of  a  blessed  pre- 
destination, and  in  the  mass  of  a  miserable  damnation.  But 
before  I  enter  on  the  subject  itself,  I  must  address  some  pre- 
liminary observations  to  two  sorts  of  persons.  The  discussion 
of  predestination  —  a  subject  of  itself  rather  intricate  —  is  made 
very  perplexed,  and  therefore  dangerous,  by  human  curiosity, 
which  no  barriers  can  restrain  from  wandering  into  forbidden 
labyrinths,  and  soaring  beyond  its  sphere,  as  if  determined  to 
leave  none  of  the  Divine  secrets  unscrutinized  or  unexplored. 
As  we  see  multitudes  every  where  guilty  of  this  arrogance  and 
presumption,  and  among  them  some  who  are  not  censurable 
in  other  respects,  it  is  proper  to  admonish  them  of  the  bounds 

(g)  Rom.  xi  5,  6. 

142  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

of  their  duty  on  this  subject.  First,  then,  let  them  remember 
that  when  they  inquire  into  predestination,  they  penetrate  the 
inmost  recesses  of  Divine  wisdom,  where  the  careless  and 
confident  intruder  will  obtain  no  satisfaction  to  his  curiosity, 
but  will  enter  a  labyrinth  from  which  he  will  find  no  way  to 
depart.  For  it  is  unreasonable  that  man  should  scrutinize  with 
impunity  those  things  which  the  Lord  has  determined  to  be 
hidden  in  himself;  and  investigate,  even  from  eternity,  that 
sublimity  of  wisdom  which  God  would  have  us  to  adore  and 
not  comprehend,  to  promote  our  admiration  of  his  glory.  The 
secrets  of  his  will  which  he  determined  to  reveal  to  us,  he 
discovers  in  his  word  ;  and  these  are  all  that  he  foresaw  would 
concern  us  or  conduce  to  our  advantage. 

II.  "  We  are  come  into  the  way  of  faith,"  says  Augustine  ; 
"  let  us  constantly  pursue  it.  It  conducts  into  the  king's 
palace,  in  which  are  hidden  all  the  treasures  of  wisdom  and 
knowledge.  For  the  Lord  Christ  himself  envied  not  his  great 
and  most  select  disciples  when  he  said,  '  I  have  many  things  to 
say  unto  you,  but  ye  cannot  bear  them  now.'  We  must  walk, 
we  must  improve,  we  must  grow,  that  our  hearts  may  be  able 
to  understand  those  things  of  which  we  are  at  present  incapa- 
ble. If  the  last  day  finds  us  improving,  we  shall  then  learn 
what  we  never  could  learn  in  the  present  state."  If  we  only 
consider  that  the  word  of  the  Lord  is  the  only  way  to  lead  us 
to  an  investigation  of  all  that  ought  to  be  believed  concerning 
him,  and  the  only  light  to  enlighten  us  to  behold  all  that  ought 
to  be  seen  of  him,  this  consideration  will  easily  restrain  and 
preserve  us  from -all  presumption.  For  we  shall  know  that 
when  we  have  exceeded  the  limits  of  the  word,  we  shall  get 
into  a  devious  and  darksome  course,  in  which  errors,  slips,  and 
falls,  will  often  be  inevitable.  Let  us,  then,  in  the  first  place, 
bear  in  mind,  that  to  desire  any  other  knowledge  of  predestina- 
tion than  what  is  unfolded  in  the  word  of  God,  indicates  as 
great  folly,  as  a  wish  to  walk  through  unpassable  roads,  or  to 
see  in  the  dark.  Nor  let  us  be  ashamed  to  be  ignorant  of  some 
things  relative  to  a  subject  in  which  there  is  a  kind  of  learned 
ignorance.  Rather  let  us  abstain  with  cheerfulness  from  the 
pursuit  of  that  knowledge,  the  affectation  of  which  is  foolish, 
dangerous,  and  even  fatal.  But  if  we  are  stimulated  by  the 
wantonness  of  intellect,  we  must  oppose  it  with  a  reflection 
calculated  to  repress  it,  that  as  "  it  is  not  good  to  eat  much 
honey,  so  for  men  to  search  their  own  glory,  is  not  glory."  (h) 
For  there  is  sufficient  to  deter  us  from  that  presumption,  which 
can  only  precipitate  us  into  ruin. 

Ill     Others,  desirous  of  remedying  this  evil,  will  have  all 

(A)  Prov.  XXV.  27. 


mention  of  predestination  to  be  as  it  were  buried  ;  they  teach 
men  to  avoid  every  question  concerning  it  as  they  would  a 
precipice.     Though  their  moderation  is  to  be  commended,  in 
judguig  that  mysteries  ought  to  be  handled  with  such  great 
sobriety,  yet,  as  they  descend  too  low,  they  have  little  influence 
on  the  mmd  of  man,  which  refuses  to  submit  to  unreasonable 
restramts.     To  observe,  therefore,  the  legitimate  boundary  on 
this   side  also,  we  must  recur  to  the  word  of  the  Lord,  which 
affords  a  certain  rule  for  the  understanding.     For  the  Scripture 
is  the  school  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  in  which,  as  nothing  necessary 
and  useful  to  be  known  is  omitted,  so  nothing  is  taught  which 
It  is  not  beneficial  to  know.     Whatever,  therefore,  is  declared 
m  the  Scripture  concerning  predestination,  we  must  be  cautious 
not  to  withhold  from   believers,  lest   we  appear  either  to  de- 
fraud them  of  the  favor  of  their  God,  or  to  reprove  and  censure 
the  Holy  Spirit  for  publishing  what  it  would  be  useful  by  any 
means  to  suppress.     Let  us,  I  say,  permit  the  Christian  man  to 
open  his  heart  and  his  ears  to  all   the  discourses  addressed  to 
him  by  God,  only  with  this  moderation,  that  as  soon  as  the 
Lord  closes  his  sacred  mouth,  he  shall  also  desist  from  further 
mquiry.     This  will  be  the  best  barrier  of  sobriety,  if  in  learn- 
mg  we  not  only  follow  the  leadings  of  God,  but  as  soon  as  he 
ceases  to  teach,  we  give  up  our  desire  of  learning.     Nor  is  the 
danger  they  dread,  sufficient  to  divert  our  attention  from  the 
oracles  of  God.     It  is  a  celebrated  observation  of  Solomon,  that 
''It  IS  the  glory  of  God  to  conceal  a  thing."  (?)     But,  as  both 
piety  and  common  sense  suggest  that  this  is  not  to  be  under- 
stood generally  of  every  thing,  we  must   seek  for  the   proper 
distinction,  lest  we  content  ourselves  with  brutish  ignorance 
under  the  pretext  of  modesty  and  sobriety.     Now,  this  distinc- 
tion is  clearly  expressed  in  a  few  words  by  Moses.    "  The 
secret  things,"  he  says,  ''belong  unto  the  Lord  our  God;  but 
those  things  which  are  revealed  belong  unto  us,  and  to  our 
children  for  ever,  that  we  may  do  all  the  words  of  this  law."  (k) 
For  we  see  how  he  enforces  on  the   people  attention  to  the 
doctrine  of  the  law  only  by  the  celestial  decree,   because   it 
pleased  God  to  promulgate  it ;  and  restrains  the  same  people 
within  those  limits  with  this  single  reason,  that  it  is  not  lawful 
for  mortals  to  intrude  into  the  secrets  of  God. 

IV.  Profane  persons,  I  confess,  suddenly  lay  hold  of  some- 
thing relating  to  the  subject  of  predestination,  to  furnish  occa- 
sion for  objections,  cavils,  reproaches,  and  ridicule.  But  if  we 
are  frightened  from  it  by  their  impudence,  all  the  princi- 
pal articles  of  the  faith  must  be  concealed,  for  there  is  scarcely 
one  of  them  which  such  persons  as  these  leave  unviolated  by 

(t)  Prov.  XXV.  2.  \  (A)  Deut.  xxix.  29. 

144  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

blasphemy.  The  refractory  mind  will  discover  as  much  inso- 
lence, on  hearing  that  there  are  three  persons  in  the  Divine 
essence,  as  on  being  told,  that  when  God  created  man,  he  fore- 
saw what  would  happen  concerning  him.  Nor  will  they 
refrain  from  derision  on  being  informed,  that  little  more  than 
five  thousand  years  have  elapsed  since  the  creation  of  the 
world.  They  will  ask  why  the  power  of  God  was  so  long  idle 
and  asleep.  Nothing  can  be  advanced  which  they  will  not 
endeavour  to  ridicule.  Must  we,  in  order  to  check  these  sacri- 
leges, say  nothing  of  the  Divinity  of  the  Son  and  Spirit,  or  pass 
over  in  silence  the  creation  of  the  world  ?  In  this  instance,  and 
every  other,  the  truth  of  God  is  too  powerful  to  dread  the 
detraction  of  impious  men  ;  as  is  strenuously  maintained  by 
Augustine,  in  his  treatise  on  the  Perseverance  of  the  Faithful. 
We  see  the  false  apostles,  with  all  their  defamation  and  accu- 
sation of  the  true  doctrine  of  Paul,  could  never  succeed  to 
make  him  ashamed  of  it.  Their  assertion,  that  all  this  discus- 
sion is  dangerous  to  pious  minds,  because  it  is  inconsistent 
with  exhortations,  shakes  their  faith,  and  disturbs  and  discou- 
rages the  heart  itself,  is  without  any  foundation.  Augustine 
admits,  that  he  was  frequently  blamed,  on  these  accounts,  for 
preaching  predestination  too  freely ;  but  he  readily  and  am- 
ply refutes  them.  But  as  many  and  various  absurdities  are 
crowded  upon  us  here,  we  prefer  reserving  every  one  to  be 
refuted  in  its  proper  place.  I  only  desire  this  general  admis- 
sion, that  we  .should  neither  scrutinize  those  things  Avhich  the 
Lord  has  left  concealed,  nor  neglect  those  which  he  has  openly 
exhibited,  lest  we  be  condemned  for  excessive  curiosity  on  the 
one  hand,  or  for  ingratitude  on  the  other.  For  it  is  judiciously 
remarked  by  Augustine,  that  we  may  safely  follow  the  Scrip- 
ture, which  proceeds  as  with  the  pace  of  a  mother  stooping  to 
the  weakness  of  a  child,  that  it  may  not  leave  our  weak  capa- 
cities behind.  But  persons  who  are  so  cautious  or  timid,  as  to 
wish  predestination  to  be  buried  in  silence,  lest  feeble  minds 
should  be  disturbed,  —  with  what  pretext,  I  ask,  will  they  gloss 
over  their  arrogance,  which  indirectly  charges  God  with  foolish 
inadvertency,  as  though  he  foresaw  not  the  danger  which  they 
suppose  they  have  had  the  penetration  to  discover.  Whoever, 
therefore,  endeavours  to  raise  prejudices  against  the  doctrine 
of  predestination,  openly  reproaches  God,  as  though  something 
had  inconsiderately  escaped  from  him  that  is  pernicious  to  the 

V.  Predestination,  by  which  God  adopts  some  to  the  hope 
of  life,  and  adjudges  others  to  eternal  death,  no  one,  desirous 
of  the  credit  of  piety,  dares  absolutely  to  deny.  But  it  is  in- 
volved in  many  cavils,  especially  by  those  who  make  fore- 
knowledge the  cause  of  it.     We  maintain,  that  both  belong  to 


God  ;  but  it  is  preposterous  to  represent  one  as  dependent  on 
the  other.  When  we  attribute  foreknowledge  to  God,  we  mean 
that  all  things  have  ever  been,  and  perpetually  remain,  before 
his  eyes,  so  that  to  his  knowledge  nothhig  is  future  or  past,  but 
all  things  are  present ;  and  present  in  such  a  manner,  that  he 
does  not  merely  conceive  of  them  from  ideas  formed  in  his 
mind,  as  things  remembered  by  us  appear  present  to  our  minds, 
bat  really  beholds  and  sees  them  as  if  actually  placed  before  him. 
And  this  foreknowledge  extends  to  the  whole  world,  and  to  all 
the  creatures.  Predestination  we  call  the  eternal  decree  of 
God,  by  which  he  has  determined  in  himself,  what  he  would 
have  to  become  of  every  individual  of  mankind.  For  they  are 
not  all  created  with  a  similar  destiny  ;  but  eternal  life  is  fore- 
ordained for  some,  and  eternal  damnation  for  others.  Every 
man,  therefore,  being  created  for  one  or  the  other  of  these  ends, 
we  say,  he  is  predestinated  either  to  life  or  to  death.  This  God 
has  not  only  testified  in  particular  persons,  but  has  given  a 
spechnen  of  it  in  the  whole  posterity  of  Abraham,  which  should 
evidently  show  the  future  condition  of  every  nation  to  depend 
upon  his  decision.  "  When  the  Most  High  divided  the  nations, 
when  he  separated  the  sons  of  Adam,  the  Lord's  portion  was 
his  people;  Jacob  was  the  lot  of  his  inheritance."  (Z)  The 
separation  is  before  the  eyes  of  all :  in  the  person  of  Abraham, 
as  in  the  dry  trunk  of  a  tree,  one  people  is  peculiarly  chosen 
to  the  rejection  of  others :  no  reason  for  this  appears,  except 
that  Moses,  to  deprive  their  posterity  of  all  occasion  of  glorying, 
teaches  them  that  their  exaltation  is  wholly  from  God's  gra- 
tuitous love.  He  assigns  this  reason  for  their  deliverance,  that 
'■'  he  loved  their  fathers,  and  chose  their  seed  after  them."(m) 
More  fully  in  another  chapter :  "  The  Lord  did  not  set  his  love 
upon  you,  nor  choose  you,  because  you  were  more  in  number 
than  any  people  ;  but  because  the  Lord  loved  you."  (71)  He 
frequently  repeats  the  same  admonition  :  "  Behold,  the  heaven 
is  the  Lord's  thy  God,  the  earth  also,  with  all  that  therein  is. 
Only  the  Lord  had  a  delight  in  thy  fathers  to  love  them,  and 
he  chose  their  seed  after  them."  (0)  In  another  place,  sancti- 
fication  is  enjoined  upon  them,  because  they  were  chosen  to 
be  a  peculiar  people.  ( p)  And  again,  elsewhere,  love  is  asserted 
to  be  the  cause  of  their  protection.  It  is  declared  by  the  united 
voice  of  the  faithful,  "  He  hath  chosen  our  inheritance  for  us, 
the  excellency  of  Jacob,  whom  he  loved."  (</)  For  the  gifts 
conferred  on  them  by  God,  they  all  ascribe  to  gratuitous  love, 
not  only  from  a  consciousness  that  these  were  not  obtained  by 
any  merit  of  theirs,  but  from  a  conviction,  that  the  holy  patri- 

(l)    Dent,  xxxii.  8,  9.  (n)  Deut.  vii.  7,  8.  (p)  Deut.  xxiii. 

(m)  Deut.  iv.  37.  {o)  Deut.  x.  14,  15.  (y)  Psalm  xlvii.  4. 

VOL.    II.  19 

l4^  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

arch  himself  was  not  endued  with  such  excellence  as  to  acquire 
the  privilege  of  so  great  an  honour  for  himself  and  his  pos- 
terity. And  the  more  etfectually  to  demolish  all  pride,  he 
reproaches  them  with  having  deserved  no  favour,  being  "  a  stiff- 
necked  and  rebellious  people."  (r)  The  prophets  also  fre- 
quently reproach  the  Jews  with  the  unwelcome  mention  of  this 
election,  because  they  had  shamefully  departed  from  it.  Let 
them,  however,  now  come  forward,  who  wish  to  restrict  the 
election  of  God  to  the  desert  of  men,  or  the  merit  of  works. 
When  they  see  one  nation  preferred  to  all  others,  —  when  they 
hear  that  God  had  no  inducement  to  be  more  favourable  to  a 
few,  and  ignoble,  and  even  disobedient  and  obstinate  people,  — 
will  they  quarrel  with  him  because  he  has  chosen  to  give  such 
an  example  of  mercy  ?  But  their  obstreperous  clamours  will 
not  impede  his  work,  nor  will  the  reproaches  they  hurl  against 
Heaven,  injure  or  affect  his  justice ;  they  will  rather  recoil 
upon  their  own  heads.  To  this  principle  of  the  gracious  cove- 
nant, the  Israelites  are  also  recalled  whenever  thanks  are  to 
be  rendered  to  God,  or  their  hopes  are  to  be  raised  for  futurity. 
"  He  hath  made  us,  and  not  we  ourselves,"  says  the  Psalmist : 
"  we  are  his  people,  and  the  sheep  of  his  pasture."  (s)  It  is  not 
without  reason  that  the  negation  is  added,  "  not  we  ourselves," 
that  they  may  know  that  of  all  the  benefits  they  enjoy,  God  is 
not  only  the  Author,  but  derived  the  cause  from  himself,  there 
being  nothmg  in  them  deserving  of  such  great  honour.  He 
also  enjoins  them  to  be  content  with  the  mere  good  pleasure 
of  God,  in  these  words :  "  O  ye  seed  of  Abraham  his  servant, 
ye  children  of  Jacob  his  chosen."  And  after  having  recounted 
the  continual  benefits  bestowed  by  God  as  fruits  of  election,  he 
at  length  concludes  that  he  had  acted  with  such  liberality,  "  be- 
cause he  remembered  his  covenant."  [t]  Consistent  with  this 
doctrine  is  the  song  of  the  whole  Church  :  "  Thy  right  hand, 
and  thine  arm,  and  the  light  of  thy  countenance,  gave  our  fa- 
thers the  land,  because  thou  hadst  a  favour  unto  them."  (m) 
It  must  be  observed  that  where  mention  is  made  of  the  land, 
it  is  a  visible  symbol  of  the  secret  separation,  which  compre- 
hends adoption.  David,  in  another  place,  exhorts  the  people 
to  the  same  gratitude  :  "  Blessed  is  the  nation  whose  God  is 
the  Lord  ;  and  the  people  whom  he  hath  chosen  for  his  own 
inheritance."  {x)  Samuel  animates  to  a  good  hope  :  ''  The 
Lord  will  not  forsake  his  people,  for  his  great  name's  sake  ; 
because  it  hath  pleased  the  Lord  to  make  you  his  people."  {y) 
David,  when  his  faith  is  assailed,  thus  arms  himself  for  the 
conflict :  "  Blessed  is  the  man  whom  thou  choosest,  and  causest 

(r)  Deut.  ix.  6,  7.  (t)  Psalm  cv.  6,  8.  (z)  Psalm  xxxiii.  12. 

\s)  Psalm  c.  3.  (w)  Psalm  xliv.  3.  \y)  1  Sam.  xii.  22 


to  approach  unto  thee  ;  he  shall  dwell  in  thy  courts."  (z) 
But  since  the  election  hidden  in  God  has  been  confirmed  by 
the  first  deliverance,  as  well  as  by  the  second  and  other  inter- 
mediate blessings,  the  word  choose  is  transferred  to  it  in  Isaiah  : 
"  The  Lord  will  have  mercy  on  Jacob,  and  will  yet  choose 
Israel ;  "  (a)  because,  contemplating  a  future  period,  he  declares 
that  the  collection  of  the  residue  of  the  people,  whom  he  had 
appeared  to  have  forsaken,  would  be  a  sign  of  the  stable  and 
sure  election,  which  had  likewise  seemed  to  fail.  When  he 
says  also,  in  another  place,  "  I  have  chosen  thee,  and  not  cast 
thee  away,"  (b)  he  commends  the  continual  course  of  his  sig- 
nal liberahty  and  paternal  benevolence.  The  angel,  in  Zecha- 
riah,  speaks  more  plainly  :  "  The  Lord  shall  choose  Jerusalem 
again ;  "  (c)  as  though  his  severe  chastisement  had  been  a 
rejection,  or  their  exile  had  been  an  interruption  of  election  ; 
which,  nevertheless,  remains  inviolable,  though  the  tokens  of 
it  are  not  always  visible. 

VL  We  must  now  proceed  to  a  second  degree  of  election, 
still  more  restricted,  or  that  in  which  the  Divine  grace  was 
displayed  in  a  more  special  manner,  when  of  the  same  race  of 
Abraham  God  rejected  some,  and  by  nourishing  others  in  the 
Church,  proved  that  he  retained  them  among  his  children. 
Ishmael  at  first  obtained  the  same  station  as  his  brother  Isaac, 
for  the  spiritual  covenant  was  equally  sealed  in  him  by  the 
symbol  of  circumcision.  He  is  cut  off;  afterwards  Esau; 
lastly,  an  innumerable  multitude,  and  almost  all  Israel.  In 
Isaac  the  sped  was  called  ;  the  same  calling  continued  in  Jacob. 
God  exhibit<i;d  a  similar  example  in  the  rejection  of  Saul,  which 
is  magnificently  celebrated  by  the  Psalmist  :  "  He  refused  the 
tabernacle  of  Joseph,  and  chose  not  the  tribe  of  Ephraim,  but 
chose  the  tribe  of  Judah;  "  (d)  and  this  the  sacred  history  fre- 
quently repeats,  that  the  wonderful  secret  of  Divine  grace  may 
be  more  manifest  in  that  change.  I  grant,  it  was  by  their  own 
crime  and  guilt  that  Ishmael,  Esau,  and  persons  of  similar  cha- 
racters, fell  from  the  adoption  ;  because  the  condition  annexed 
was,  that  they  should  faithfully  keep  the  covenant  of  God, 
which  they  perfidiously  violated.  Yet  it  was  a  peculiar  favour 
of  God,  that  he  deigned  to  prefer  them  to  other  nations  ;  as  it 
is  said  in  the  Psalms  :  "  He  hath  not  dealt  so  with  any  nation  ; 
and  as  for  his  judgments,  they  have  not  known  them."  (e) 
But  I  have  justly  said  that  here  are  two  degrees  to  be  remarked  ; 
for  in  the  election  of  the  whole  nation,  God  has  already  shown 
that  in  his  mere  goodness  he  is  bound  by  no  laws,  but  is  per- 
fectly free,  so  that  none  can  require  of  him  an  equal  distribu- 

(z)  Psalm  Ixv.  4.  (A)  Isaiah  xli.  9.  (d)  Psalm  Ixxviii.  67,  68. 

(a)  Isaiah  xiv.  1.  (c)  Zech.  ii.  12.  (e)  Psalm  cxlvii.  20. 

148  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    lUi 

tion  of  grace,  the  inequality  of  which  demonstrates  it  to  be 
truly  gratuitous.  Therefore  Malachi  aggravates  the  ingratitude 
of  Israel,  because,  though  not  only  elected  out  of  the  whole 
race  of  mankind,  but  also  separated  from  a  sacred  family  to  be 
a  peculiar  people,  they  perfidiously  and  impiously  despised  God 
their  most  beneficent  Father.  "  Was  not  Esau  Jacob's  bro- 
ther ?  saith  the  Lord  :  yet  1  loved  Jacob,  and  I  hated  Esau."  (/) 
For  God  takes  it  for  granted,  since  both  were  sons  of  a  holy 
father,  successors  of  the  covenant,  and  branches  from  a  sacred 
root,  that  the  children  of  Jacob  were  already  laid  under  more 
than  common  obligations  by  their  admission  to  that  honour  ; 
but  Esau  the  first-born  having  been  rejected,  and  their  father, 
though  inferior  by  birth,  having  been  made  the  heir,  he  proves 
them  guilty  of  double  ingratitude,  and  complains  of  theii-  vio- 
lating this  twofold  claim. 

VII.  Though  it  is  sufficiently  clear,  that  God,  in  his  secret 
counsel,  freely  chooses  whom  he  will,  and  rejects  others,  his 
gratuitous  election  is  but  half  displayed  till  we  come  to  particu- 
lar individuals,  to  whom  God  not  only  offers  salvation,  but  as- 
signs it  in  such  a  manner,  that  the  certainty  of  the  effect  is 
liable  to  no  suspense  or  donbt.  These  are  included  in  that 
one  seed  mentioned  by  Paul ;  for  though  the  adoption  was  de- 
posited in  the  hand  of  Abraham,  yet  many  of  his  posterity 
being  cut  ofi"  as  putrid  members,  in  order  to  maintain  the  effi- 
cacy and  stability  of  election,  it  is  necessary  to  ascend  to  the 
head,  in  whom  their  heavenly  Father  has  bound  his  elect  to 
each  other,  and  united  them  to  himself  by  an  indissoluble 
bond.  Thus  the  adoption  of  the  family  of  Abraham  displayed 
the  favour  of  God,  which  he  denied  to  others ;  but  in  the 
members  of  Christ  there  is  a  conspicuous  exhibition  of  the 
superior  efficacy  of  grace ;  because,  being  united  to  their  head, 
they  never  fail  of  salvation.  Paul,  therefore,  justly  reasons 
from  the  passage  of  Malachi  which  I  have  just  quoted,  that 
where  God,  introducing  the  covenant  of  eternal  life,  invites  any 
people  to  himself,  there  is  a  peculiar  kind  of  election  as  to  part 
of  them,  so  that  he  does  not  efficaciously  choose  all  with  indis- 
criminate grace.  The  declaration,  "  Jacob  have  I  loved,"  re- 
spects the  whole  posterity  of  the  patriarch,  whom  the  prophet 
there  opposes  to  the  descendants  of  Esau.  Yet  this  is  no  ob- 
jection to  our  having  in  the  person  of  one  individual  a  specimen 
of  the  election,  which  can  never  fail  of  attaining  its  full  effect. 
These,  who  truly  belong  to  Christ,  Paul  correctly  observes,  are 
called  "a  remnant;"  for  experience  proves,  that  of  a  great 
multitude  the  most  part  fall  away  and  disappear,  so  that  often 
only  a  small  portion  remains.     That  the  general  election  of  a 

(/)  Mai.  i.  2,  3. 


people  is  not  always  effectual  and  permanent,  a  reason  readily 
presents  itself,  because,  when  God  covenants  with  them,  he  does 
not  also  give  them  the  spirit  of  regeneration  to  enable  them  to 
persevere  in  the  covenant  to  the  end ;  but  the  external  call, 
without  the  internal  efficacy  of  grace,  which  would  be  suffi- 
cient for  their  preservation,  is  a  kind  of  medium  between  the 
rejection  of  all  mankind  and  the  election  of  the  small  number 
of  believers.  The  whole  nation  of  Israel  was  called  "God's 
inheritance,"  though  many  of  them  were  strangers ;  but  God, 
having  firmly  covenanted  to  be  their  Father  and  Redeemer, 
regards  that  gratuitous  favour  rather  than  the  defection  of  mul- 
titudes ;  by  whom  his  truth  was  not  violated,  because  his  pre- 
servation of  a  certain  remnant  to  himself,  made  it  evident  that  his 
calling  was  without  repentance.  For  God's  collection  of  a 
Church  for  himself,  from  time  to  time,  from  the  children  of 
Abraham,  rather  than  from  the  profane  nations,  was  in  con- 
sideration of  his  covenant,  which,  being  violated  by  the  multi- 
tude, he  restricted  to  a  few,  to  prevent  its  total  failure.  Lastly, 
the  general  adoption  of  the  seed  of  Abraham  was  a  visible  re- 
presentation of  a  greater  blessing,  which  God  conferred  on  a 
few  out  of  the  multitude.  This  is  the  reason  that  Paul  so 
carefully  distinguishes  the  descendants  of  Abraham  according 
to  the,  from  his  spiritual  children  called  after  the  example 
of  Isaac.  Not  that  the  mere  descent  from  Abraham  was  a  vain 
and  unprofitable  thing,  which  could  not  be  asserted  without 
depreciating  the  covenant ;  but  because  1  o  the  latter  alone  the 
immutable  counsel  of  God,  in  which  he  predestinated  whom 
he  would,  was  of  itself  effectual  to  salvation.  But  I  advise  my 
readers  to  adopt  no  prejudice  on  either  side,  till  it  shall  appear 
from  adduced  passages  of  Scripture  Avhat  sentiments  ought  to 
be  entertained.  In  conformity,  therefore,  to  the  clear  doctrine 
of  the  Scripture,  we  assert,  that  by  an  eternal  and  immutable 
counsel,  God  has  once  for  all  determined,  both  whom  he  would 
admit  to  salvation,  and  whom  he  would  condemn  to  destruc- 
tion. We  affirm  that  this  counsel,  as  far  as  concerns  the  elect, 
is  founded  on  his  gratuitous  mercy,  totally  irrespective  of 
human  merit ;  but  that  to  those  whom  he  devotes  to  condem- 
nation, the  gate  of  life  is  closed  by  a  just  and  irreprehensible, 
but  incompiehensible,  judgment.  In  the  elect,  we  consider 
calling  as  an  evidence  of  election,  and  justification  as  another 
token  of  its  manifestation,  till  they  arrive  in  glory,  which  con- 
stitutes its  completion.  As  God  seals  his  elect  by  vocation 
and  justification,  so  by  excluding  the  reprobate  from  the  knoAV- 
ledge  of  his  name  and  the  sanctification  of  his  Spirit,  he  affords 
an  indication  of  the  judgment  that  awaits  them.  Here  I  shall 
pass  over  many  fictions  fabricated  by  foolish  men  to  overthrow 
predestination.     It  is  unnecessary  to  refute  things  which,  as 

150  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    li', 

soon  as  they  are  advanced,  sufficiently  prove  their  own  false> 
hood.  I  shall  dwell  only  on  those  things  which  are  subjects 
of  controversy  among  the  learned,  or  which  may  occasion  dif- 
ficulty to  simple  minds,  or  which  impiety  speciously  pleads  in 
order  to  stigmatize  the  Divine  justice. 



All  the  positions  we  have  advanced  are  controverted  by  ma- 
ny, especially  the  gratuitous  election  of  believers,  which  never- 
theless cannot  be  shaken.  It  is  a  notion  commonly  entertained, 
that  God,  foreseeing  what  would  be  the  respective  merits  of 
every  individual,  makes  a  correspondent  distinction  between 
different  persons  ;  that  he  adopts  as  his  children  such  as  he 
foreknows  will  be  deserving  of  his  grace,  and  devotes  to  the 
damnation  of  death  others,  whose  dispositions  he  sees  will  be 
inclined  to  wickedness  and  impiety.  Thus  they  not  only 
obscure  election  by  covering  it  with  the  veil  of  foreknow- 
ledge, but  pretend  that  it  originates  in  another  cause.  Nor  is 
this  commonly  received  notion  the  opinion  of  the  vulgar  only, 
for  it  has  had  great  advocates  in  all  ages ;  which  I  candidly 
confess,  that  no  one  may  cherish  a  confidence  of  injuring  our 
cause  by  opposing  us  with  their  names.  For  the  truth  of  God 
on  this  point  is  too  certain  to  be  shaken,  too  clear  to  be  over- 
thrown by  the  authority  of  men.  Others,  neither  acquainted 
with  the  Scripture,  nor  deserving  of  any  attention,  oppose  the 
sound  doctrine  with  extreme  presumption  and  intolerable  ef- 
frontery. God's  sovereign  election  of  some,  and  preterition  of 
others,  they  make  the  subject  of  formal  accusation  against 
him.  But  if  this  is  the  known  fact,  what  will  they  gain  by 
quarrelling  with  God  ?  We  teach  nothing  but  what  experience 
has  proved,  that  God  has  always  been  at  liberty  to  bestow  his 
grace  on  whom  he  chooses.  I  will  not  inquire  how  the  pos- 
terity of  Abraham  excelled  other  nations,  unless  it  was  by  that 
favour,  the  cause  of  which  can  only  be  found  in  God.  Let  them 
answer  why  they  are  men,  and  not  oxen  or  asses  :  when  it  was 
m  God's  power  to  create  them  dogs,  he  formed  them  after  his 
own  image.  Will  they  allow  the  brute  animals  to  expostulate 
with  God  respecting  their  condition,  as  though  the  distinction 
were  unjust  ?  Their  enjoyment  of  a  privilege  which  they  have 
acquired  by  no  merits,  is  certainly  no  more  reasonable  than 


God's  various  distribution  of  his  favours  according  to  the  mea- 
sure of  his  judgment.  If  they  make  a  transition  to  persons 
where  the  inequahty  is  more  offensive  to  them,  the  example 
of  Christ  at  least  ought  to  deter  them  from  carelessly  prating 
concerning  this  sublime  mystery.  A  mortal  man  is  conceived 
of  the  seed  of  David :  to  the  merit  of  what  virtues  will  they 
ascribe  his  being  made,  even  in  the  womb,  the  Head  of  angels, 
the  only  begotten  Son  of  God,  the  Image  and  Glory  of  the 
Father,  the  Light,  Righteousness,  and  Salvation  of  the  world  ? 
It  is  judiciously  remarked  by  Augustine,  that  there  is  the 
brightest  example  of  gratuitous  election  in  the  Head  of  the 
Church  himself,  that  it  may  not  perplex  us  in  the  members  ; 
that  he  did  not  become  the  Son  of  God  by  leading  a  righteous 
life,  but  was  gratuitously  invested  with  this  high  honour,  that 
he  might  afterwards  render  others  partakers  of  the  gifts  be- 
stowed upon  him.  If  any  one  inquire,  why  others  are  not  all 
that  he  was,  or  why  we  are  all  at  such  a  vast  distance  from 
him, — why  we  are  all  corrupt,  and  he  purity  itself, — he  will 
betray  both  folly  and  impudence.  But  if  they  persist  in  the 
wish  to  deprive  God  of  the  uncontrollable  right  of  choosing 
and  rejecting,  let  them  also  take  away  what  is  given  to  Christ. 
Now,  it  is  of  importance  to  attend  to  what  the  Scripture  de- 
clares respecting  every  individual.  Paul's  assertion,  that  we 
were  "  chosen  in  Christ  before  the  foundation  of  the  world,"  (g) 
certainly  precludes  any  consideration  of  merit  in  us ;  for  it  is 
as  though  he  had  said,  our  heavenly  Father,  finding  nothing 
worthy  of  his  choice  in  all  the  posterity  of  Adam,  turned  his 
views  towards  his  Christ,  to  choose  members  from  his  body 
whom  he  would  admit  to  the  fellowship  of  life.  Let  be- 
lievers, then,  be  satisfied  with  this  reason,  that  we  were  adopted 
in  Christ  to  the  heavenly  inheritance,  because  in  ourselves  we 
were  incapable  of  such  high  dignity.  He  has  a  similar  remark 
in  another  place,  where  he  exhorts  the  Colossians  to  "  give 
thanks  unto  the  Father,  who  had  made  them  meet  to  be  parta- 
kers of  the  inheritance  of  the  saints."  (/t)  If  election  precedes 
this  grace  of  God,  which  makes  us  meet  to  obtain  the  glory  of 
the  life  to  come,  what  will  God  find  in  us  to  induce  him  to 
elect  us  ?  Another  passage  from  this  apostle  will  still  more 
clearly  express  my  meaning.  "  He  hath  chosen  us,"  he  says, 
"  before  the  foundation  of  the  world,  according  to  the  good 
pleasure  of  his  will,  that  we  should  be  holy,  and  without  blame 
before  him  ;  "  (i)  where  he  opposes  the  good  pleasure  of  God 
to  all  our  merits  whatsoever. 

II.    To  render  the  proof  more  complete,  it  will  be  useful  to 
notice  all  the  clauses  of  that  passage,   which,  taken  in  connec- 

(g)  Ephes.  i.  4.  (A)  Col.  i.  12.  (i)  Ephes.  i.  4,  5. 

152  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

tion,  leave  no  room  for  doubt.  By  the  appellation  of  the  elect, 
or  chosen,  he  certainly  designates  believers,  as  he  soon  after 
declares :  wherefore  it  is  corrupting  the  term  by  a  shameful  fiction 
to  restrict  it  to  the  age  in  which  the  gospel  was  published.  By 
saying  that  they  were  elected  before  the  creation  of  the  world, 
he  precludes  every  consideration  of  merit.  For  what  could  be 
the  reason  for  discrimination  between  those  who  yet  had  no 
existence,  and  whose  condition  was  afterward  to  be  the  same 
in  Adam  ?  Now,  if  they  are  chosen  in  Christ,  it  follows,  not 
only  that  each  individual  is  chosen  out  of  himself,  but  also  that 
some  are  separated  from  others ;  for  it  is  evident,  that  all  are 
not  members  of  Christ.  The  next  clause,  stating  them  to  have 
been  "  chosen  that  they  might  be  holy,"  fully  refutes  the  error 
which  derives  election  from  foreknowledge  ;  since  Paul,  on  the 
contrary,  declares  that  all  the  virtue  discovered  in  men  is  the 
effect  of  election.  If  any  inquiry  be  made  after  a  superior  cause, 
Paul  replies,  that  God  thus  "  predestinated,"  and  that  it  was 
"according  to  the  good  pleasure  of  his  will."  This  overturns 
any  means  of  election  which  men  imagine  in  themselves ;  for 
all  the  benefits  conferred  by  God  for  the  spiritual  life,  he  repre- 
sents as  flowing  from  this  one  source,  that  God  elected  whom 
he  would,  and,  before  they  were  born,  laid  up  in  reserve  for 
them  the  grace  with  which  he  determined  to  favor  them. 

III.  Wherever  this  decree  of  God  reigns,  there  can  be  no 
consideration  of  any  works.  The  antithesis,  indeed,  is  not  pur- 
sued here  ;  but  it  must  be  understood,  as  it  is  amplified  by  the 
same  writer  in  another  place  :  "  Who  hath  called  us  with  a 
holy  calling,  not  according  to  our  works,  but  according  to  his 
own  purpose  and  grace,  which  was  given  us  in  Christ  Jesus, 
before  the  world  began."  (k)  And  we  have  already  shown 
that  the  following  clause,  "that  we  should  be  holy,"  removes 
every  difficulty.  For  say.  Because  he  foresaw  they  would  be 
holy,  therefore  he  chose  them,  and  you  will  invert  the  order  of 
Paul.  We  may  safely  infer,  then.  If  he  chose  us  that  we 
should  be  holy,  his  foresight  of  our  futm-e  holiness  was  not  the 
cause  of  his  choice.  For  these  two  propositions.  That  the 
holiness  of  believers  is  the  fruit  of  election,  and.  That  they 
attain  it  by  means  of  works,  are  incompatible  with  each  other. 
Nor  is  there  any  force  in  the  cavil  to  which  they  frequently 
resort,  that  the  grace  of  election  was  not  God's  reward  of  an- 
tecedent works,  but  his  gift  to  future  ones.  For  when  it  is 
said,  that  believers  were  elected  that  they  should  be  holy,  it 
is  fully  implied,  that  the  holiness  they  were  in  future  to  possess 
had  its  origin  in  election.  And  what  consistency  would  there 
be  in  asserting,  that  things  derived  from  election  were   the 

(A)  2  Tim.  i.  9. 

C^HAP.    XXII.]  CHilisTlAN   RELIGION.  153 

causes  of  election  ?  A  subsequent  clause  seems  further  to  con- 
firm what  he  had  said  —  "  according  to  his  good  pleasure,  which 
he  purposed  in  himself."  (^)  For  the  assertion,  that  God  pur- 
posed in  himself,  is  equivalent  to  saying,  that  he  considered 
nothing  out  of  himself,  with  any  view  to  influence  his  deter- 
mination. Therefore  he  immediately  subjoins,  that  the  great 
and  only  object  of  our  election  is,  "  that  we  should  be  to  the 
praise  of"  Divine  "grace."  Certainly  the  grace  of  God  de- 
serves not  the  sole  praise  of  our  election,  unless  this  election  be 
gratuitous.  Now,  it  could  not  be  gratuitous,  if,  in  choosing  his 
people,  God  himself  considered  what  would  be  the  nature  of 
their  respective  works.  The  declaration  of  Christ  to  his  dis- 
ciples, therefore,  is  universally  applicable  to  all  believers : 
"  Ye  have  not  chosen  me,  but  I  have  chosen  you  ;  "  (ni)  which 
not  only  excludes  past  merits,  but  signifies  that  they  had  nothing 
in  themselves  to  cause  their  election,  independently  of  his  pre- 
venting mercy.  This  also  is  the  meaning  of  that  passage  of 
Paul,  "  Who  hath  first  given  to  him,  and  it  shall  be  recompensed 
unto  him  again?"  (ii)  For  his  design  is  to  show,  that  God's 
goodness  altogether  anticipates  men,  finding  nothing  in  them, 
either  past  or  future,  to  conciliate  his  favour  towards  them. 

lY.  In  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans,  where  he  goes  to  the 
bottom  of  this  argument,  and  pursues  it  more  at  length,  he  says, 
"  They  are  not  all  Israel  which  are  "  born  "  of  Israel ;  "  (o)  be- 
cause though  all  were  blessed  by  hereditary  right,  yet  the  suc- 
cession did  not  pass  to  all  alike.  This  controversy  originated 
in  the  pride  and  vain-glorying  of  the  Jewish  people,  who,  claim- 
ing for  themselves  the  title  of  the  Church,  would  make  the 
faith  of  the  gospel  to  depend  on  their  decision;  just  as,  in 
the  present  day,  the  Papists  with  this  false  pretext  would  sub- 
stitute themselves  in  the  place  of  God.  Paul,  though  he  admits 
the  posterity  of  Abraham  to  be  holy  in  consequence  of  the 
covenant,  yet  contends  that  most  of  them  are  strangers  to 
it ;  and  that  not  only  because  they  degenerate,  from  legitimate 
children  becoming  spurious  ones,  but  because  the  preeminence 
and  sovereignty  belong  to  God's  special  election,  which  is  the 
sole  foundation  of  the  validity  of  their  adoption.  If  some  were 
established  in  the  hope  of  salvation  by  their  own  piety,  and  the 
rejection  of  others  were  owing  wholly  to  their  own  defection, 
Paul's  reference  of  his  readers  to  the  secret  election  would  indeed 
be  weak  and  absurd.  Now,  if  the  will  of  God,  of  which  no 
cause  appears  or  must  be  sought  out  of  himself,  discriminates 
some  from  others,  so  that  the  children  of  Israel  are  not  all  true 
Israelites,  it  is  in  vain  pretended  that  the  condition  of  every 
individual  originates  with  himself.     He  pursues  the  subject  fur* 

(I)  Ephes.  i.  9.         (wi)  John  xv.  16.         (re)  Rom.  xi.  35.         (o)  Rom.  ix.  6. 

VOL.  II.  20 

154>  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

ther  under  the  example  of  Jacob  and  Esau ;  for  being  both  child- 
ren of  Abraham,  and  both  enclosed  in  their  mother's  womb,  the 
transfer  of  the  honour  of  primogeniture  to  Jacob  was  by  a  pre- 
ternatural change,  which  Paul,  however,  contends  indicated  the 
election  of  the  one  and  the  reprobation  of  the  other.  The  ori- 
gin aud  the  cause  are  inquired,  which  the  champions  of  fore- 
knowledge maintain  to  be  exhibited  in  the  virtues  and  the  vices  of 
men.  For  this  is  their  short  and  easy  doctrine  —  That  God  has 
showed  in  the  person  of  Jacob,  that  he  elects  such  as  are  worthy 
of  his  grace  ;  and  in  the  person  of  Esau,  that  he  rejects  those 
whom  he  foresees  to  be  unworthy.  This,  indeed,  they  assert 
with  confidence  ;  but  what  is  the  testimony  of  Paul  ?  "  The 
children  being  not  yet  born,  neither  having  done  any  good  or 
evil,  that  the  purpose  of  God  according  to  election  might  stand, 
not  of  works,  but  of  him  that  calleth,  it  was  said,  The  elder 
shall  serve  the  younger ;  as  it  is  written,  Jacob  have  I  loved, 
but  Esau  have  I  hated."  (p)  If  this  distinction  between  the 
brothers  was  influenced  by  foreknowledge,  the  mention  of  the 
time  must  certainly  be  unnecessary.  On  the  supposition  that 
Jacob  was  elected,  because  that  honour  was  acquired  by  his 
future  virtues,  to  what  purpose  could  Paul  remark  that  he  was 
not  yet  born  ?  It  would  not  have  been  so  proper  to  add,  that 
he  had  not  yet  done  any  good ;  for  it  will  be  immediately 
replied,  that  nothing  is  concealed  from  God,  and  therefore  the 
piety  of  Jacob  must  have  been  present  before  him.  If  grace  be 
the  reward  of  works,  they  ought  to  have  had  their  just  value 
attributed  to  them  before  Jacob  was  born,  as  much  as  if  he 
were  already  grown  to  maturity.  But  the  apostle  proceeds  in 
unravelling  the  difficulty,  and  teaches  that  the  adoption  of  Ja- 
cob flowed  not  from  works,  but  from  the  calling  of  God.  In 
speaking  of  works,  he  introduces  no  time,  future  or  past,  but 
positively  opposes  them  to  the  calling  of  God,  intending  the 
establishment  of  the  one,  and  the  absolute  subversion  of  the 
other  ;  as  though  he  had  said.  We  must  consider  the  good  plea- 
sure of  God,  and  not  the  productions  of  men.  Lastly,  the  very 
terms,  election  and  purpose^  certainly  exclude  from  this  subject 
all  the  causes  frequently  invented  by  men,  independently  of 
God's  secret  counsel. 

V.  Now,  what  pretexts  will  be  urged  to  obscure  these  argu- 
ments, by  those  who  attribute  to  works,  either  past  or  future, 
any  influence  on  election  ?  For  this  is  nothing  but  an  evasion 
of  the  apostle's  argument,  that  the  distinction  between  the  two 
brothers  depends  not  on  any  consideration  of  works,  but  on  the 
mere  calling  of  God,  because  it  was  fixed  between  them  when 
they  were  not  yet  born.     Nor   would  their  subtilty  have  es- 

(p)  Rom.  ix.  11—13. 


caped  him,  if  there  had  been  any  solidity  in  it ;  but  well  know- 
ing the  impossibility  of  God's  foreseeing  any  good  in  man,  ex- 
cept what  he  had  first  determined  to  bestow  by  the  benefit  of 
his  election,  he  resorts  not  to  the  preposterous  order  of  placing 
good  works  before  their  cause.  We  have  the  apostle's  author- 
ity that  the  salvation  of  believers  is  founded  solely  oL  the  de- 
cision of  Divine  election,  and  that  that  favour  is  not  procured 
by  works,  but  proceeds  from  gratuitous  calling.  We  have  also 
a  lively  exhibition  of  this  truth  in  a  particular  example.  Jacob 
and  Esau  are  brothers,  begotten  of  the  same  parents,  still  en- 
closed in  the  same  womb,  not  yet  brought  forth  into  light ; 
there  is  in  all  respects  a  perfect  equality  between  them ;  yet 
the  judgment  of  God  concerning  them  is  diflerent.  For  he 
takes  one,  and  rejects  the  other.  The  primogeniture  was  the 
only  thing  that  gave  one  a  right  of  priority  to  the  other.  But 
that  also  is  passed  by,  and  on  the  younger  is  bestowed  what  is 
refused  to  the  elder.  In  other  instances,  also,  God  appears 
always  to  have  treated  primogeniture  with  designed  and  deci- 
ded contempt,  to  cut  oif  from  the  flesh  all  occasion  of  boasting. 
He  rejects  Ishmael,  and  favours  Isaac.  He  degrades  Manasseh, 
and  honours  Ephraim. 

VL  If  it  be  objected,  that  from  these  inferior  and  inconsider- 
able benefits,  it  must  not  be  concluded  respecting  the  life  to 
come,  that  he  who  has  been  raised  to  the  honour  of  prmrogeni- 
ture  is  therefore  to  be  considered  as  adopted  to  the  inheritance 
of  heaven,  —  for  there  are  many  who  spare  not  Paul,  as  though 
in  his  citation  of  Scripture  testimonies  he  had  perverted  them 
from  their  genuine  meaning,  —  I  answer  as  before,  that  the 
apostle  has  neither  erred  through  inadvertency,  nor  wilfully 
perverted  testimonies  of  Scripture?  But  he  saw,  what  they 
cannot  bear  to  consider,  that  God  intended  by  an  earthly 
symbol  to  declare  the  spiritual  election  of  Jacob,  which  other- 
wise lay  concealed  behind  his  inaccessible  tribunal.  For 
unless  the  primogeniture  granted  him  had  reference  to  the 
future  world,  it  was  a  vain  and  ridiculous  kind  of  blessing, 
which  produced  him  nothing  but  various  afllictions  and  ad- 
versities, grievous  exile,  numerous  cares,  and  bitter  sorrows. 
Discerning,  beyond  all  doubt,  that  God's  external  blessing  was 
an  indication  of  the  spiritual  and  permanent  blessing  he  had 
prepared  for  his  servant  in  his  kingdom,  Paul  hesitated  not  to 
argue  from  the  former  in  proof  of  the  latter.  It  must  also  be 
remembered,  that  to  the  land  of  Canaan  was  annexed  the 
pledge  of  the  celestial  residence ;  so  that  it  ought  not  to 
be  doubted  that  Jacob  was  ingrafted  with  angels  into  the  body 
of  Christ,  that  he  might  be  a  partaker  of  the  same  life.  While 
Esau  is  rejected,  therefore,  Jacob  is  elected,  and  distinguished 
from  him  by  God's  predestination,  without  any  diflerence  of 

1 56  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

merit.  If  you  inquire  the  cause,  the  apostle  assigns  the  fol- 
lowing :  "  For  he  saith  to  Moses,  I  will  have  mercy  on  whom 
I  will  have  mercy,  and  I  will  have  compassion  on  whom  I 
will  have  compassion."  {q)  And  what  is  this  but  a  plain  de- 
claration of  the  Lord,  that  he  finds  no  cause  in  men  to  induce 
him  to  show  favour  to  them,  but  derives  it  solely  from  his 
own  mercy ;  and  therefore  that  the  salvation  of  his  people  is 
his  work  ?  When  God  fixes  your  salvation  in  himself  alone, 
why  will  you  descend  into  yourself?  When  he  assigns  you 
his  mere  mercy,  why  will  you  have  recourse  to  your  own 
merits  ?  When  he  confines  all  your  attention  to  his  mercy, 
why  will  you  divert  part  of  it  to  the  contemplation  of  your 
own  works?  We  must  therefore  come  to  that  more  select 
people,  whom  Paul  in  another  place  tells  us  "  God  fore- 
knew," (r)  not  using  this  word,  according  to  the  fancy  of  our 
opponents,  to  signify  a  prospect,  from  a  place  of  idle  observa- 
tion, of  things  which  he  has  no  part  in  transacting,  but  in  the 
sense  in  which  it  is  frequently  used.  For  certainly,  when 
Peter  says  that  Christ  was  "  delivered  "  to  death  "  by  the  de- 
terminate counsel  and  foreknowledge  of  God,"  (s)  he  introduces 
God  not  as  a  mere  spectator,  but  as  the  Author  of  our  salvation. 
So  the  same  apostle,  by  calling  believers,  to  whom  he  writes, 
"elect  according  to  the  foreknowledge  of  God,"  (/)  properly 
expresses  that  secret  predestination  by  which  God  has  marked 
out  whom  he  would  as  his  children.  And  the  word  purpose^ 
which  is  added  as  a  synonymous  term,  and  in  common  speech 
is  always  expressive  of  fixed  determination,  undoubtedly  im- 
plies that  God,  as  the  Author  of  our  salvation,  does  not  go  out 
of  himself.  In  this  sense  Christ  is  called,  in  the  same  chapter, 
the  "Lamb  foreknown  before  the  foundation  of  the  world." 
For  what  can  be  more  absurd  or  uninteresting,  than  God's 
looking  from  on  high  to  see  from  what  quarter  salvation 
would  come  to  mankind  ?  The  people,  therefore,  whom  Paul 
describes  as  "foreknown,"  [u)  are  no  other  than  a  small  num- 
ber scattered  among  the  multitude,  who  falsely  pretend  to  be 
the  people  of  God.  In  another  place  also,  to  repress  the  boast- 
ing of  hypocrites  assuming  before  the  world  the  preeminence 
among  the  godly,  Paul  declares,  "  The  Lord  knoweth  them 
that  are  his."  {x)  Lastly,  by  this  expression  Paul  designates 
two  classes  of  people,  one  consisting  of  the  whole  race  of 
Abraham,  the  other  separated  from  it,  reserved  under  the  eyes 
of  God,  and  concealed  from  the  view  of  men.  And  this,  with- 
out doubt,  he  gathered  from  Moses,  who  asserts  that  God  will 
be  merciful  to  Avhom  he  will  be  merciful ;  though  he  is  speak- 

(q)  Rom.  ix.  15.  {s)  Acts  ii.  23.  (k)  Rom.  xi.  2. 

(r)  Rom.  xi.  2.  {t)  1  Pet.  i.  2.  {x)  2  Tim.  ii.  19 


ing  of  the  chosen  people,  whose  condition  was,  to  outward  ap- 
pearance, all  alike  ;  as  thongh  he  had  said,  that  the  common 
adoption  includes  in  it  peculiar  grace  towards  some,  who  re- 
semble a  more  sacred  treasure  ;  that  the  common  covenant 
prevents  not  this  small  number  being  exempted  from  the  com- 
mon lot ;  and  that,  determined  to  represent  himself  as  the  un- 
controlled dispenser  and  arbiter  in  this  atfair,  he  positively 
denies  that  he  will  have  mercy  on  one  rather  than  another, 
from  any  other  motive  than  his  own  pleasure  ;  because,  when 
mercy  meets  a  person  who  seeks  it,  though  he  sulfers  no  re- 
pulse, yet  he  either  anticipates  or  in  some  degree  obtains  for 
himself  that  favour,  of  which  God  claims  to  himself  all  the 

VII.  Now,  let  the  supreme  Master  and  Judge  decide  the 
whole  matter.  Beholding  in  his  hearers  such  extreme  obdu- 
racy, that  his  discourses  were  scattered  among  the  multitude 
almost  without  any  effect,  to  obviate  this  offence,  he  exclaims, 
"  All  that  the  Father  giveth  me,  shall  come  to  me.  And  this 
is  the  Father's  will,  that  of  all  Avhich  he  hath  given  me,  I 
should  lose  nothing."  (y)  Observe,  the  origin  is  from  the  do- 
nation of  the  Father,  that  we  are  given  into  the  custody 
and  protection  of  Christ.  Here,  perhaps,  some  one  may  argue 
in  a  circle,  and  object,  that  none  are  considered  as  the  Father's 
peculiar  people,  but  those  whose  surrender  has  been  voluntary, 
arising  from  faith.  But  Christ  only  insists  on  this  point  —  that 
notwithstanding  the  defections  of  vast  multitudes,  shaking  the 
whole  world,  yet  the  counsel  of  God  will  be  stable  and  firmer 
than  the  heavens,  so  that  election  can  never  fail.  They  are 
said  to  have  been  the  elect  of  the  Father,  before  he  gave  them 
to  his  only  begotten  Son.  Is  it  inquired  whether  this  was  by 
nature  ?  No,  he  draws  those  who  were  strangers,  and  so  makes 
them  his  children.  The  language  of  Christ  is  too  clear  to  be 
perplexed  by  the  quibbles  of  sophistry  :  "No  man  can  come  to 
me,  except  the  Father  draw  him.  Every  man  that  hath  heai'd 
and  learned  of  the  Father,  cometh  imto  me."  (z)  If  all  men 
promiscuously  submitted  to  Christ,  election  would  be  common: 
now,  the  fewness  of  believers  discovers  a  manifest  distinction. 
Having  asserted  his  disciples  therefore,  who  were  given  to  him, 
to  be  the  peculiar  portion  of  the  Father,  Christ  a  little  after 
adds,  "  I  pray  not  for  the  world,  but  for  them  which  thou  hast 
given  me,  for  they  are  thine:"  (a)  which  shows  that  the  whole 
world  does  not  belong  to  its  Creator ;  only  that  grace  de- 
livers from  the  curse  and  wrath  of  God,  and  from  eternal  death, 
a  few,  who  would  otherwise  perish,  but  leaves  the  world  in  its 
destruction,  to  which  it  has  been  destined.     At  the  same  time, 

(y)  John  vi.  37,  39.  (:)  John  vi.  44,  45.  (a)  John  xvii.  9. 

158  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

though  Christ  introduces  himself  in  his  mediatorial  capacity, 
yet  he  claims  to  himself  the  right  of  election,  in  common  with 
the  Father.  "  I  speak  not  of  all,"  he  says  ;  "  I  know  whom  I 
have  chosen,"  (6)  If  it  be  inquired  whence  he  chose  them, 
he  elsewhere  answers,  "out  of  the  world,"  (c)  which  he  ex- 
cludes from  his  prayers,  when  he  commends  his  disciples  to  the 
Father.  It  must  be  admitted,  that  when  Christ  asserts  his 
knowledge  of  whom  he  has  chosen,  it  refers  to  a  particular 
class  of  mankind,  and  that  they  are  distinguished,  not  by  the 
nature  of  their  virtues,  but  by  the  decree  of  Heaven.  "Whence 
it  follows,  that  none  attain  any  excellence  by  their  own  ability 
or  industry,  since  Christ  represents  himself  as  the  author  of 
election.  His  enumeration  of  Judas  among  the  elect,  though 
he  was  a  devil,  only  refers  to  the  apostolical  office,  which, 
though  an  illustrious  instance  of  the  Divine  favour,  as  Paul  so 
frequently  acknowledges  in  his  own  person,  yet  does  not  in- 
clude the  hope  of  eternal  salvation.  Judas,  therefore,  in  his 
unfaithful  exercise  of  the  apostleship,  might  be  worse  than  a 
devil ;  but  of  those  whom  Christ  has  once  united  to  his  body, 
he  will  never  suffer  one  to  perish ;  for  in  securing  their  salva- 
tion, he  will  perform  what  he  has  promised,  by  exerting  the 
power  of  God,  who  is  greater  than  all.  What  he  says  in 
another  place,  "  Those  that  thou  gavest  me  I  have  kept,  and 
none  of  them  is  lost,  but  the  son  of  perdition,"  is  a  mode  of 
expression,  called  catachfesis,  but  the  sense  is  sufficiently  plain. 
The  conclusion  is,  that  God  creates  whom  he  chooses  to  be 
his  children  by  gratuitous  adoption ;  that  the  cause  of  this  is 
wholly  in  himself;  because  he  exclusively  regards  his  own 
secret  determination. 

VIII.  But,  it  will  be  said,  Ambrose,  Origen,  and  Jerome 
believed  that  God  dispenses  his  grace  among  men,  according  to 
his  foreknowledge  of  the  good  use  which  every  individual  will 
make  of  it.  Augustine  also  was  once  of  the  same  sentiment ; 
but  when  he  had  made  a  greater  proficiency  in  scriptural  know- 
ledge, he  not  only  retracted,  but  powerfully  confuted  it.  And 
after  his  retractation,  rebuking  the  Pelagians  for  persisting  in 
this  error,  he  says,  "  Who  but  must  wonder  that  this  most 
ingenious  sense  should  escape  the  apostle  ?  For  after  propo- 
sing what  was  calculated  to  excite  astonishment  respecting 
those  children  yet  unborn,  he  started  to  himself,  by  way  of 
objection,  the  following  question  :  What,  then,  is  there  unright- 
eousness with  God  ?  It  was  the  place  for  him  to  answer,  that 
God  foresaw  the  merits  of  each  of  them ;  yet  he  says  nothing 
of  this,  but  resorts  to  the  decrees  and  mercy  of  God."  And  in 
another  place,  after  having  discarded  all  merits  antecedent  to 

{b)  John  xiii.  18.  (c)  John  xv.  19 

Chap,  xxii.]  christian  religion.  159 

election,  he  says,  "  Here  undoubtedly  falls  to  the  ground  the 
vain  reasoning  of  those  who  defend  the  foreknowledge  of  God 
in  opposition  to  his  grace,  and  affirm  that  we  were  elected  be- 
fore the  foundation  of  the  world,  because  God  foreknew  that 
we  would  be  good,  not  that  he  himself  would  make  us  good. 
This  is  not  the  language  of  him  who  says,  '  Ye  have  not  cho- 
sen me,  but  I  have  chosen  you.'  (d)  For  if  he  elected  us 
because  he  foreknew  our  future  good,  he  must  also  have  fore- 
known our  choice  of  him  ;  "  and  more  to  the  like  purpose. 
This  testimony  should  have  weight  with  those  who  readily  ac- 
quiesce in  the  authority  of  the  fathers.  Though  Augustine 
will  not  allow  himself  to  be  disunited  from  the  rest,  but  shows 
by  clear  testimonies  the  falsehood  of  that  discordance,  with  the 
odium  of  which  he  was  loaded  by  the  Pelagians,  he  makes  the 
following  quotations  from  Ambrose's  book  on  predestination  : 
"  Whom  Christ  has  mercy  on,  him  he  calls.  Those  who 
were  indevout  he  could,  if  he  would,  have  made  devout. 
But  God  calls  whom  he  pleases,  and  makes  whom  he  will 
religious."  If  I  were  inclined  to  compile  a  whole  volume 
from  Augustine,  I  could  easily  show  my  readers,  that  I  need 
no  words  but  his  ;  but  I  am  unwilling  to  burden  them  with 
prolixity.  But  come,  let  us  suppose  them  to  be  silent  :  let  us 
attend  to  the  subject  itself  A  difficult  question  was  raised  — 
Whether  it  was  a  just  procedure  in  God  to  favour  with  his 
grace  certain  particular  persons.  This  Paul  could  have  decided 
by  a  single  word,  if  he  had  pleaded  the  consideration  of  works. 
Why,  then,  does  he  not  do  this,  but  rather  continue  his  dis- 
course involved  in  the  same  difficulty  ?  Why,  but  from  ne- 
cessity ?  for  the  Holy  Spirit,  who  spoke  by  his  mouth,  never 
laboured  under  the  malady  of  forgetfulness.  Without  any 
evasion  or  circumlocution,  therefore,  he  answers,  that  God  fa- 
vours his  elect  because  he  will,  and  has  mercy  because  he  will. 
For  this  oracle,  "  I  will  be  gracious  to  whom  I  will  be  gracious, 
and  will  show  mercy  on  whom  I  will  show  mercy,"  (e)  is 
equivalent  to  a  declaration,  that  God  is  excited  to  mercy  by  no 
other  motive  than  his  own  will  to  be  merciful.  The  observa- 
tion of  Augustine  therefore  remains  true,  "  that  the  grace  of 
God  does  not  find  men  fit  to  be  elected,  but  makes  them  so." 

IX.  We  shall  not  dwell  upon  the  sophistry  of  Thomas  Aqui- 
nas, "  that  the  foreknowledge  of  merits  is  not  the  cause  of  pre- 
destination in  regard  to  the  act  of  him  who  predestinates ;  but 
that  with  regard  to  us,  it  may  in  some  sense  be  so  called,  ac- 
cording to  the  particular  consideration  of  predestination  ;  as 
when  God  is  said  to  predestinate  glory  for  man  according  to 
merits,  because  he  decreed  to  give  him  grace  by  which  glory  is 

(d)  John  X?.  16.  (e)  Exod.  xxxUi.  19. 

160  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

merited."  For  since  the  Lord  allows  us  to  contemplate  nothing 
in  election  but  his  mere  goodness,  the  desire  of  any  one  to  see 
any  thing  more  is  a  preposterous  disposition.  But  if  we  were 
inclined  to  a  contention  of  subtilty,  we  should  be  at  no  loss  to 
refute  this  petty  sophism  of  Aquinas.  He  contends  that  glory 
is  in  a  certain  sense  predesthiated  for  the  elect  according  to 
their  merits,  because  God  predestinates  to  them  the  grace  by 
which  glory  is  merited.  What  if  I,  on  the  contrary,  reply, 
that  predestination  to  grace  is  subordinate  to  election  to  life, 
and  attendant  upon  it  ?  that  grace  is  predestinated  to  those  to 
whom  the  possession  of  glory  has  been  already  assigned  ;  be- 
cause it  pleases  the  Lord  to  conduct  his  children  from  election 
to  justification  ?  For  hence  it  will  fohow,  that  predestination  to 
glory  is  rather  the  cause  of  predestination  to  grace,  than  the 
contrary.  But  let  us  dismiss  these  controversies ;  they  are 
unnecessary  with  those  who  think  they  have  wisdom  enough 
in  the  word  of  God.  For  it  was  truly  remarked  by  an  ancient 
ecclesiastical  writer,  That  they  who  ascribe  God's  election  to 
merits,  are  wiser  than  they  ought  to  be. 

X.  It  is  objected  by  some,  that  God  will  be  inconsistent 
with  himself,  if  he  invites  all  men  universally  to  come  to  him, 
and  receives  only  a  few  elect.  Thus,  according  to  them,  the 
universality  of  the  promises  destroys  the  discrimination  of  special 
grace ;  and  this  is  the  language  of  some  moderate  men,  not  so 
much  for  the  sake  of  suppressing  the  truth,  as  to  exclude  thorny 
questions,  and  restrain  the  curiosity  of  many.  The  end  is  laudable, 
but  the  means  cannot  be  approved  ;  for  disingenuous  evasion  can 
never  be  excused  ;  but  with  those  who  use  insult  and  invective,  it 
is  a  foul  cavil  or  a  shameful  error.  How  the  Scripture  reconciles 
these  two  facts,  that  by  external  preaching  all  are  called  to  re- 
pentance and  faith,  and  yet  that  the  spirit  of  repentance  and  faith 
is  not  given  to  all,  I  have  elsewhere  stated,  and  shall  soon  have 
occasion  partly  to  repeat.  What  they  assume,  I  deny,  as  being 
false  in  two  respects.  For  he  who  threatens  drought  to  one  city 
while  it  rains  upon  another,  and  who  denounces  to  another  place 
a  famine  of  doctrine,  (/)  lays  himself  under  no  positive  obliga- 
tion to  call  all  men  alike.  And  he  who,  forbidding  Paul  to 
preach  the  word  in  Asia,  and  suffering  him  not  to  go  into 
Bithynia,  calls  him  into  Macedonia,  (g)  demonstrates  his  right 
to  distribute  this  treasure  to  whom  he  pleases.  In  Isaiah,  he 
still  more  fully  declares  his  destination  of  the  promises  of  sal- 
vation exclusively  for  the  elect ;  for  of  them  only,  and  not 
indiscriminately  of  all  mankind,  he  declares  that  they  shall  be 
his  disciples,  (h)  Whence  it  appears,  that  when  the  doctrine 
of  salvation  is  offered  to  all  for  their  elfectual  benefit,  it  is  a 

(/)  Amos  iv.  7;  viii.  11.  (g)  Acts  xvi.  6—10.  (h)  Isaiah  viii.  16,  «&c. 


corrupt  prostitution  of  that  which  is  declared  to  be  reserved  par- 
ticularly for  the  children  of  the  church.  At  present  let  this  suf- 
fice, that  though  the  voice  of  the  gospel  addresses  all  men  gene- 
rally, yet  the  gift  of  faith  is  bestowed  on  few.  Isaiah  assigns  the 
cause,  that  "  the  arm  of  the  Lord  "  is  not  "  revealed  "  to  all.  (i) 
If  he  had  said,  that  the  gospel  is  wickedly  and  perversely  despised, 
because  many  obstinately  refuse  to  hear  it,  perhaps  there  would 
be  some  colour  for  this  notion  of  the  universal  call.  The  design 
of  the  prophet  is  not  to  extenuate  the  guilt  of  men,  when  he 
states  that  the  source  of  blindness  is  God's  not  deigning  to 
reveal  his  arm  to  them  ;  he  only  suggests  that  their  ears  are  in 
vain  assailed  with  external  doctrine,  because  faith  is  a  peculiar 
gift.  I  would  wish  to  be  informed  by  these  teachers,  whether 
men  become  children  of  God  by  mere  preaching,  or  b,y  faith. 
Surely,  when  John  declares  that  all  who  believe  in  God's  only 
begotten  Son,  are  themselves  made  the  children  of  God,  (k)  this 
is  not  said  of  all  the  hearers  of  the  word  in  a  confused  mass,  but 
a  particular  rank  is  assigned  to  believers,  "  which  were  born, 
not  of  blood,  nor  of  the  will  of  the  flesh,  nor  of  the  will  of  man, 
but  of  God."  (I)  But  they  say,  there  is  a  mutual  agreement 
between  faith  and  the  word.  This  is  the  case  wherever  there 
is  any  faith  ;  but  it  is  no  new  thing  for  the  seed  to  fall  among 
thorns  or  in  stony  places  ;  not  only  because  most  men  ai'e  evi- 
dently in  actual  rebellion  against  God,  but  because  they  are  not 
all  endued  with  eyes  and  ears.  Where,  then,  will  be  the  consis- 
tency of  God's  calling  to  himself  such  as  he  knows  will  never 
come  ?  Let  Augustine  answer  for  me  :  "  Do  you  wish  to  dis- 
pute with  me  ?  Rather  unite  with  me  in  admiration,  and  ex- 
claim, O  the  depth  !  Let  us  both  agree  in  fear,  lest  we  perish 
in  error."  Besides,  if  election  is,  as  Paul  represents  it,  the 
parent  of  faith,  I  retort  that  argument  upon  them,  that  faith 
cannot  be  general,  because  election  is  special.  For  from  the 
connection  of  causes  and  effects,  it  is  easily  inferred,  when  Paul 
says,  "  God  hath  blessed  us  with  all  spiritual  blessings,  according 
as  he  hath  chosen  us  before  the  foundation  of  the  world  ;  "  that 
therefore  these  treasures  are  not  common  to  all,  because  God 
has  chosen  only  such  as  he  pleased.  This  is  the  reason  why, 
in  another  place,  he  commends  "  the  faith  of  God's  elect ;  "  (m) 
that  none  may  be  supposed  to  acquire  faith  by  any  exertion  of 
their  own,  but  that  God  may  retain  the  glory  of  freely  illumi- 
nating the  objects  of  his  previous  election.  For  Bernard  justly 
observes,  "  Friends  hear  each  one  for  himself  when  he  addresses 
them,  '  Fear  not,  little  flock,  for  to  you  it  is  given  to  know  the 
mystery  of  the  kingdom  of  heaven.'  Who  are  these  ?  Certainly 
those  whom  he  has  foreknown  and  predestinated  to  be  con- 

(t)  Isaiah  liii.  1.  (A)  John  i.  12.  (/)  John  i.  13.  (wi)  Titus  i.  1. 

VOL.    II.  21 

162  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

formed  to  the  image  of  his  Son.  The  great  and  secret  coun- 
sel has  been  revealed.  The  Lord  knows  who  are  his,  but 
what  was  known  to  God  is  manifested  to  men.  Nor  does  he 
favour  any  others  with  the  participation  of  so  great  a  mystery, 
but  those  particular  individuals  whom  he  foreknew,  and  pre- 
destinated to  be  his  own."  A  little  after  he  concludes,  "  The 
mercy  of  God  is  from  everlasting  to  everlasting  upon  them  that 
fear  him  ;  from  everlasting  in  predestination,  to  everlasting  in 
beatification ;  the  one  knowing  no  beginning ;  the  other,  no 
end."  But  what  necessity  is  there  for  citing  the  testimony  of 
Bernard,  since  we  hear  from  the  Master's  own  mouth,  that  "  no 
man  hath  seen  the  Father,  save  he  which  is  of  God,"  (n)  which 
implies,  that  all  who  are  not  regenerated  by  God,  are  stupe- 
fied with  the  splendour  of  his  countenance.  Faith,  indeed,  is 
properly  connected  with  election,  provided  it  occupies  the  se- 
cond place.  This  order  is  clearly  expressed  in  these  words 
of  Christ :  "  This  is  the  Father's  will,  that  of  all  which  he  hath 
given  me,  I  should  lose  nothing.  And  this  is  the  will  of  him 
that  sent  me,  that  every  one  which  believeth  on  the  Son,  may 
have  everlasting  life."  (o)  If  he  willed  the  salvation  of  all,  he 
would  give  them  all  into  the  custody  of  his  Son,  and  unite  them 
all  to  his  body  by  the  sacred  bond  of  faith.  Now,  it  is  evident, 
that  faith  is  the  peculiar  pledge  of  his  paternal  love,  reserved  for 
his  adopted  children.  Therefore  Christ  says  in  another  place, 
"  The  sheep  follow  the  shepherd,  for  they  know  his  voice  ;  and 
a  stranger  will  they  not  follow,  for  they  know  not  the  voice  of 
strangers."  (p)  Whence  arises  this  diflerence,  but  because  their 
ears  ai'e  divinely  penetrated  ?  For  no  man  makes  himself  a 
sheep,  but  is  created  such  by  heavenly  grace.  Hence  also  the 
Lord  proves  the  perpetual  certainty  and  security  of  our  salvation, 
because  it  is  kept  by  the  invincible  power  of  God.  (q)  There- 
fore he  concludes  that  unbelievers  are  not  his  sheep,  because 
they  are  not  of  the  number  of  those  whom  God  by  Isaiah 
promised  to  him  for  his  future  disciples,  (r)  Moreover,  the  testi- 
monies I  have  cited,  being  expressive  of  perseverance,  are  so 
many  declarations  of  the  invariable  perpetuity  of  election. 

XI.  Now,  with  respect  to  the  reprobate,  whom  the  apostle 
introduces  in  the  same  place ;  as  Jacob,  without  any  merit  yet 
acquired  by  good  works,  is  made  an  object  of  grace,  so  Esau, 
while  yet  unpolluted  by  any  crime,  is  accounted  an  object  of 
hatred,  (s)  If  we  turn  our  attention  to  works,  we  insult  the 
apostle,  as  though  he  saw  not  that  which  is  clear  to  us.  Now, 
that  he  saw  none,  is  evident,  because  he  expressly  asserts  the  one 
to  have  been  elected  and  the  other  rejected  while  they  had  not 

(«)  John  vi.  46.        (p)   John  x.  4,  5.       (r)  John  x.  26 
(o)  John  vi.  39,  40.      (g)  John  x.  29.       (s)  Rom.  ix.  13. 


done  any  good  or  evil ;  in  order  to  prove  the  foundation  of  Divine 
predestination  not  to  be  in  works,  (t)  Secondly,  when  he  raises 
the  objection  whether  God  is  unjust,  he  never  urges,  what  would 
have  been  the  most  absolute  and  obvious  defence  of  his  justice, 
that  God  rewarded  Esau  according  to  his  wickedness ;  but  con- 
tents himself  with  a  ditferent  solution,  that  the  reprobate  are 
raised  up  for  this  purpose,  that  the  glory  of  God  may  be  dis- 
played by  their  means.  Lastly,  he  subjoins  a  concluding  obser- 
vation, that  "  God  hath  mercy  on  whom  he  will  have  mercy,  and 
whom  he  will  he  hardeneth."  (u)  You  see  how  he  attributes 
both  to  the  mere  will  of  God.  If,  therefore,  we  can  assign  no 
reason  why  he  grants  mercy  to  his  people  but  because  such  is 
his  pleasure,  neither  shall  we  find  any  other  cause  but  his  will 
for  the  reprobation  of  others.  For  when  God  is  said  to  harden 
or  show  mercy  to  whom  he  pleases,  men  are  taught  by  this 
declaration  to  seek  no  cause  beside  his  will. 



When  the  human  mind  hears  these  things,  its  petulance 
breaks  all  restraint,  and  it  discovers  as  serious  and  violent 
agitation  as  if  alarmed  by  the  sound  of  a  martial  trumpet. 
Many,  indeed,  as  if  they  wished  to  avert  odium  from  God, 
admit  election  in  such  a  way  as  to  deny  that  any  one  is  repro- 
bated. But  this  is  puerile  and  absurd,  because  election  itself 
could  not  exist  without  being  opposed  to  reprobation.  God  is 
said  to  separate  those  whom  he  adopts  to  salvation.  To  say 
that  others  obtain  by  chance,  or  acquire  by  their  own  efforts, 
that  which  election  alone  confers  on  a  few,  will  be  worse  than 
absurd.  Whom  God  passes  by,  therefore,  he  reprobates,  and 
from  no  other  cause  than  his  determination  to  exclude  them 
from  the  inheritance  which  he  predestines  for  his  children. 
And  the  petulance  of  men  is  intolerable,  if  it  refuses  to  be  re- 
strained by  the  word  of  God,  which  treats  of  his  incomprehen- 
sible counsel,  adored  by  angels  themselves.  But  now  we  have 
heard  that  hardening  proceeds  from  the  Divine  power  and  will, 
as  much  as  mercy.  Unlike  the  persons  I  have  mentioned, 
Paul  never  strives  to  excuse  God  by  false  allegations :  he  only 

(t)  Rom.  ix.  11.  (u)  Rom.  ix.  18. 

164  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

declares  that  it  is  unlawful  for  a  thing  formed  to  quarrel  with 
its  maker,  {x)  Now,  how  will  those,  who  admit  not  that  any 
are  reprobated  by  God,  evade  this  declaration  of  Christ :  "  Every 
plant  which  my  heavenly  Father  hath  not  planted,  shall  be 
rooted  up?  "  {y)  Upon  all  whom  our  heavenly  Father  has  not 
deigned  to  plant  as  sacred  trees  in  his  garden,  they  hear  de- 
struction plamly  denounced.  If  they  deny  this  to  be  a  sign  of 
reprobation,  there  is  nothing  so  clear  as  to  be  capable  of  proof 
to  such  persons.  Bat  if  they  cease  not  their  clamour,  let  the 
sobriety  of  faith  be  satisfied  with  this  admonition  of  Paul,  that 
there  is  no  cause  for  quarrelling  with  God,  if,  on  the  one  hand, 
willing  to  show  his  wrath,  and  to  make  his  power  known,  he 
endures,  "  with  much  long-suifering,  the  vessels  of  wrath 
fitted  to  destruction ;  "  and  on  the  other,  makes  "  known  the 
riches  of  his  glory  on  the  vessels  of  mercy,  whom  he  had  afore 
prepared  unto  glory."  {z)  Let  the  reader  observe  that,  to  pre- 
clude every  pretext  for  murmurs  and  censures,  Paul  ascribes 
supreme  dominion  to  the  wrath  and  power  of  God  ;  because  it 
is  unreasonable  for  those  deep  judgments,  which  absorb  all  our 
faculties,  to  be  called  in  question  by  us.  It  is  a  frivolous  reply 
of  our  adversaries,  that  God  does  not  wholly  reject  the  objects 
of  his  long-suffering,  but  remains  in  suspense  towards  them, 
awaiting  the  possibility  of  their  repentance  ;  as  though  Paul 
attributed  patience  to  God,  in  expectation  of  the  conversion 
of  those  whom  he  asserts  to  be  fitted  to  destruction.  For 
Augustine,  in  expounding  this  passage,  where  power  is  con- 
nected with  patience,  justly  observes,  that  God's  power  is  not 
permissive,  but  influential.  They  observe,  also,  that  it  is  not 
said  without  meaning,  that  the  vessels  of  wrath  are  fitted  to 
destruction,  but  that  God  prepared  the  vessels  of  mercy ;  since 
by  this  mode  of  expression,  he  ascribes  and  challenges  to  God 
the  praise  of  salvation,  and  throws  the  blame  of  perdition  upon 
those  who  by  their  choice  procure  it  to  themselves.  But 
though  I  concede  to  them,  that  Paul  softens  the  asperity  of  the 
former  clause  by  the  diflerence  of  phmseology,  yet  it  is  not  at 
all  consistent  to  transfer  the  preparation  for  destruction  to  any 
other  than  the  secret  counsel  of  God ;  which  is  also  asserted 
just  before  in  the  context,  that  ''  God  raised  up  Pharaoh,  and 
whom  he  will  he  hardeneth."  Whence  it  follows,  that  the 
cause  of  hardening  is  the  secret  counsel  of  God.  This,  however, 
I  maintain,  which  is  observed  by  Augustine  that  when  God 
turns  wolves  into  sheep,  he  renovates  them  by  more  powerful 
grace  to  conquer  their  obduracy ;  and  therefore  the  obstinate 
are  not  converted,  because  God  exerts  not  that  mightier  grace, 
of  which  he  is  not  destitute,  if  he  chose  to  display  it. 

(x)  Rom.  ix.  20.  {y)  Matt.  xv.  13.  (z)  Rom.  ix.  22,  23. 


II.  These  things  will  amply  suffice  for  persons  of  piety  and 
modesty,  who  remember  that  they  are  men.  But  as  these  vir- 
ulent adversaries  are  not  content  with  one  species  of  opposition, 
we  will  reply  to  them  all  as  occasion  shall  require.  Foolish 
mortals  enter  into  many  contentions  with  God,  as  though  they 
could  arraign  him  to  plead  to  their  accusations.  In  the  first 
place  they  inquire,  by  what  right  the  Lord  is  angry  with  his 
creatures  who  had  not  provoked  him  by  any  previous  offence ; 
for  that  to  devote  to  destruction  whom  he  pleases,  is  more 
like  the  caprice  of  a  tyrant  than  the  lawful  sentence  of  a  judge ; 
that  men  have  reason,  therefore,  to  expostulate  with  God,  if 
they  are  predestinated  to  eternal  death  without  any  demerit 
of  their  own,  merely  by  his  sovereign  will.  If  such  thoughts 
ever  enter  the  minds  of  pious  men,  they  will  be  sufficiently 
enabled  to  break  their  violence  by  this  one  consideration,  how 
exceedingly  presumptuous  it  is  only  to  inquire  into  the  causes 
of  the  Divine  will ;  which  is  in  fact,  and  is  justly  entitled  to 
be,  the  cause  of  every  thing  that  exists.  For  if  it  has  any 
cause,  then  there  must  be  something  antecedent,  on  which  it 
depends  ;  which  it  is  impious  to  suppose.  For  the  will  of  God 
is  the  highest  rule  of  justice  ;  so  that  what  he  wills  must  be 
considered  just,  for  this  very  reason,  because  he  wills  it. 
When  it  is  inquired,  therefore,  why  the  Lord  did  so,  the  an- 
swer must  be.  Because  he  would.  But  if  you  go  further,  and 
ask  why  he  so  determined,  you  are  in  search  of  something 
greater  and  higher  than  the  will  of  God,  which  can  never  be 
found.  Let  human  temerity,  therefore,  desist  from  seeking 
that  which  is  not,  lest  it ,  should  fail  of  finding  that  which  is. 
This  will  be  a  sufficient  restraint  to  any  one  disposed  to  reason 
with  reverence  concerning  the  secrets  of  his  God.  Against 
the  audaciousness  of  the  impious,  who  are  not  afraid  openly  to 
rail  against  God,  the  Lord  will  sufficiently  defend  himself  by 
his  own  justice,  without  any  vindication  by  us,  when,  depriv- 
ing their  consciences  of  every  subterfuge,  he  shall  convict  them 
and  bind  them  with  a  sense  of  their  guilt.  LYet  we  espouse 
not  the  notion  of  the  Romish  theologians  concerning  the  ab- 
solute and  arbitrary  power  of  God,  which,  on  account  of  its 
profaneness,  deserves  our  detestation.  We  represent  not  God 
as  lawless,  who  is  a  law  to  himself ;  because,  as  Plato  says, 
laws  are  necessary  to  men,  who  are  the  subjects  of  evil  desires  ; 
but  the  will  of  God  is  not  only  pure  from  every  fault,  but  the 
highest  standard  of  perfection,  even  the  law  of  all  laws.  But 
we  deny  that  he  is  liable  to  be  called  to  any  account ;  we  deny 
also  that  we  are  proper  judges,  to  decide  on  this  cause  accord- 
ing to  our  own  apprehension.  Wherefore,  if  we  attempt  to 
go  beyond  what  is  lawful,  let  us  be  deterred  by  the  Psalmist, 

166  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

who  tells  us,  that  God  will  be  clear  when  he  is  judged  by 
mortal  man.  (a) 

III.  Thus  God  is  able  to  check  his  enemies  by  silence. 
But  that  we  may  not  suffer  them  to  deride  his  holy  name  with 
impunity,  he  supplies  us  from  his  word  with  arms  against 
them.  Therefore,  if  any  one  attack  us  with  such  an  inquiry 
as  this,  why  God  has  from  the  beginning  predestinated  some 
men  to  death,  who,  not  yet  being  brought  into  existence,  could 
not  yet  deserve  the  sentence  of  death,  —  we  will  reply  by  ask- 
ing them,  in  return,  what  they  suppose  God  owes  to  man,  if  he 
chooses  to  judge  of  him  from  his  own  nature.  As  we  are  all 
corrupted  by  sin,  we  must  necessarily  be  odious  to  God,  and 
that  not  from  tyrannical  cruelty,  but  in  the  most  equitable 
estimation  of  justice.  If  all  whom  the  Lord  predestinates  to 
death  are  in  their  natural  condition  liable  to  the  sentence  of  death, 
what  injustice  do  they  complain  of  receiving  from  him  ?  Let 
all  the  sons  of  Adam  come  forward ;  let  them  all  contend  and 
dispute  with  their  Creator,  because  by  his  eternal  providence 
they  were  previously  to  their  birth  adjudged  to  endless  misery. 
What  murmur  will  they  be  able  to  raise  against  this  vindication, 
when  God,  on  the  other  hand,  shall  call  them  to  a  review  of 
themselves.  If  they  have  all  been  taken  from  a  corrupt  mass, 
it  is  no  wonder  that  they  are  subject  to  condemnation.  Let 
them  not,  therefore,  accuse  God  of  injustice,  if  his  eternal 
decree  has  destined  them  to  death,  to  which  they  feel  them- 
selves, whatever  be  their  desire  or  aversion,  spontaneously  led 
forward  by  their  own  nature.  Hence  appears  the  perverseness 
of  their  disposition  to  murmur,  because  they  intentionally  sup- 
press the  cause  of  condemnation,  which  they  are  constrained 
to  acknowledge  in  themselves,  hoping  to  excuse  themselves  by 
charging  it  upon  God.  But  though  I  ever  so  often  admit 
God  to  be  the  author  of  it,  which  is  perfectly  correct,  yet  this 
does  not  abolish  the  guilt  impressed  upon  their  consciences, 
and  from  time  to  time  recurring  to  their  view. 

IV.  They  further  object.  Were  they  not,  by  the  decree  of 
God,  antecedently  predestinated  to  that  corruption  which  is 
now  stated  as  the  cause  of  condemnation  ?  When  they  perish 
in  their  corruption,  therefore,  they  only  suffer  the  punishment 
of  that  misery  into  which,  in  consequence  of  his  predesti- 
nation, Adam  fell,  and  precipitated  his  posterity  with  him.  Is 
he  not  unjust,  therefore,  in  treating  his  creatures  with  such 
cruel  mockery  ?  I  confess,  indeed,  that  all  the  descendants  of 
Adam  fell  by  the  Divine  will  into  that  miserable  condition  in 
which  they  are  now  involved  ;  and  this  is  what  I  asserted  from 
the  beginning,  that  we  must  always  return  at  last  to  the  sove- 

(a)  Psalm  li.  4. 


roign  determination  of  God's  will,  the  cause  of  which  is  hidden 
in  himself.  But  it  follows  not,  therefore,  that  God  is  liable  to 
this  reproach.  For  we  will  answer  them  thus  in  the  language 
of  Paul:  "O  man,  who  art  thou  that  repliest  against  God? 
Shall  the  thing  formed  say  to  him  that  formed  it,  Why  hast 
thou  made  me  thus  ?  Hath  not  the  potter  power  over  the  clay, 
of  the  same  lump,  to  make  one  vessel  unto  honour  and 
another  unto  dishonour  ?"  (6)  They  will  deny  this  to  be  in 
reality  any  vindication  of  God's  justice,  and  call  it  a  subterfuge, 
such  as  is  commonly  resorted  to  by  persons  destitute  of  a  sufii- 
cient  defence.  For  what  appears  to  be  the  meaning  of  this, 
but  that  God  possesses  power,  that  cannot  be  resisted,  of  doing 
any  thing  whatsoever  according  to  his  pleasure  ?  But  it  is 
very  different.  For  what  stronger  reason  can  be  alleged,  than 
when  we  are  directed  to  consider  who  God  is  ?  How  could 
any  injustice  be  committed  by  him  who  is  the  Judge  of  the 
world  ?  If  it  is  the  peculiar  property  of  the  nature  of  God  to 
do  justice,  then  he  naturally  loves  righteousness  and  hates 
iniquity.  The  apostle,  therefore,  has  not  resorted  to  sophistry, 
as  if  he  were  in  danger  of  confutation,  but  has  shown  that  the 
reason  of  the  Divine  justice  is  too  high  to  be  measured  by  a 
human  standard,  or  comprehended  by  the  littleness  of  the  hu- 
man mind.  The  apostle,  indeed,  acknowledges  that  there  is  a 
depth  in  the  Divine  judgments  sufficient  to  absorb  the  minds 
of  all  mankind,  if  they  attempt  to  penetrate  it.  But  he  also 
teaches  how  criminal  it  is  to  reduce  the  works  of  God  to  such 
a  law,  that  on  failing  to  discover  the  reason  of  them,  we  pre- 
sume to  censure  them.  It  is  a  well  known  observation  of  Solo- 
mon, though  few  rightly  understand  it,  that  •'  the  great  God, 
that  formed  all  things,  both  rewardeth  the  fool,  and  rewardeth 
transgressors."  (c)  For  he  is  proclaiming  the  greatness  of  God, 
whose  will  it  is  to  punish  fools  and  transgressors,  although  he 
favours  them  not  with  his  Spirit.  And  men  betray  astonish- 
ing madness  in  desiring  to  comprehend  immensity  within  the 
limits  of  their  reason.  The  angels  who  stood  in  their  integrity, 
Paul  calls  "  elect ;  "  (f/)  if  their  constancy  rested  on  the  Divine 
pleasure,  the  defection  of  the  others  argues  their  being  for- 
saken —  a  fact  for  which  no  other  cause  can  be  assigned  than 
the  reprobation  hidden  in  the  secret  counsel  of  God. 

V.  Now,  to  any  follower  of  Manes  or  Celestius,  a  calumni- 
ator of  Divine  Providence,  I  reply  with  Paul,  that  no  account 
ought  to  be  given  of  it.  for  its  greatness  far  surpasses  our  un- 
derstanding. What  wonder  or  absurdity  is  there  in  this? 
Would  he  have  the  Divine  power  so  limited,  as  to  be  unable 
to  execute  more  than  his  little  capacity  can  comprehend  ?     I 

(b)  Rom.   T.  20,  21.  (c)  Prov.  xxvi.  10.  (d)  1  Tim.  v.  21. 

168  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

say,  with  Augustine,  that  the  Lord  created  those  who,  he  cer- 
tainly foreknew,  would  fall  into  destruction,  and  that  this  was 
actually  so  because  he  willed  it ;  but  of  his  will  it  belongs  not 
to  us  to  demand  the  reason,  which  we  are  incapable  of  com- 
prehending ;  nor  is  it  reasonable  that  the  Divine  will  should 
be  made  the  subject  of  controversy  with  us,  which,  whenever 
it  is  discussed,  is  only  another  name  for  the  highest  rule  of 
justice.  Why,  then,  is  any  question  started  concerning  injus- 
tice, where  justice  is  evidently  conspicuous?  Nor  let  us  be 
ashamed  to  follow  the  example  of  Paul,  and  stop  the  mouths 
of  unreasonable  and  wicked  men  in  this  manner,  repeating  the 
same  answer  as  often  as  they  shall  dare  to  repeat  their  com- 
plaints. Who  are  you,  miserable  mortals,  preferring  an  ac- 
cusation against  God,  because  he  accommodates  not  the  great- 
ness of  his  works  to  your  ignorance  ?  as  though  they  were 
necessarily  wrong,  because  they  are  concealed  from  carnal 
view.  Of  the  immeusity  of  God's  judgments  you  have  the 
clearest  evidences.  You  know  they  are  called  '•  a  great  deep." 
Now,  examine  your  contracted  intellects,  whether  they  can 
comprehend  God's  secret  decrees.  What  advantage  or  satis- 
faction do  you  gain  from  plunging  yourselves,  by  your  mad 
researches,  into  an  abyss  that  reason  itself  pronounces  will  be 
fatal  to  you  ?  Why  are  you  not  at  least  restrained  by  some 
fear  of  what  is  contained  in  the  history  of  Job  and  the  books 
of  the  prophets,  concerning  the  inconceivable  wisdom  and 
terrible  power  of  God  ?  If  your  mind  is  disturbed,  embrace 
without  reluctance  the  advice  of  Augustine  :  "  You,  a  man, 
expect  an  answer  from  me,  who  am  also  a  man.  Let  us,  there- 
fore, both  hear  him,  who  says,  O  man,  who  art  thou  ?  Faith- 
ful ignorance  is  better  than  presumptuous  knowledge.  Seek 
merits  ;  you  will  find  nothing  but  punishment.  0  the  depth  ! 
Peter  denies  ;  the  thief  believes  ;  O  the  depth  !  Do  you  seek  a 
reason  ?  I  will  tremble  at  the  depth.  Do  you  reason  ?  I  will 
wonder.  Do  you  dispute  ?  I  will  believe.  I  see  the  depth, 
I  reach  not  the  bottom.  Paul  rested,  because  he  found  admira- 
tion. He  calls  the  judgments  of  God  imsearchable  ;  and  are 
you  come  to  scrutinize  them  ?  He  says,  his  ways  are  past 
finding  out;  and  are  you  come  to  investigate  them?"  We 
shall  do  no  good  by  proceeding  any  further ;  it  will  not  satisfy 
their  petulance  ;  and  the  Lord  needs  no  other  defence  than 
what  he  has  employed  by  his  Spirit,  speaking  by  the  mouth 
of  Paul  ;  and  we  forget  to  speak  well  when  we  cease  to  speak 
with  God. 

VL  Impiety  produces  also  a  second  objection,  Avhich  directly 
tends,  not  so  much  to  the  crimination  of  God,  as  to  the  vindi- 
cation of  the  sinner ;  though  the  sinner  whom  God  condemns 
cannot  be  justified  without  the  disgrace  of  the  Judge.     For 


this  is  their  profane  complaint,  Why  should  God  impute  as  a 
fault  to  man  those  things  which  were  rendered  necessary  by 
his  predestination  ?  What  should  they  do  ?  Should  they  re- 
sist his  decrees?  This  would  be  vain,  for  it  would  be  impossi- 
ble. Therefore  they  are  not  justly  punished  for  those  things  of 
which  God's  predestination  is  the  principal  cause.  Here  I  shall 
refrain  from  the  defence  commonly  resorted  to  by  ecclesiastical 
writers,  that  the  foreknowledge  of  God  prevents  not  man  from 
being  considered  as  a  sinner,  since  God  foresees  man's  evils, 
not  his  own.  For  then  the  cavil  would  not  stop  here ;  it 
would  rather  be  urged,  that  still  God  might,  if  he  would,  have 
provided  against  the  evils  he  foresaw,  and  that  not  having 
done  this,  he  created  man  expressly  to  this  end,  that  he  might 
so  conduct  himself  in  the  world  ;  but  if,  by  the  Divine  Provi- 
dence, man  was  created  in  such  a  state  as  afterwards  to  do 
whatever  he  actually  does,  he  ought  not  to  be  charged  with 
guilt  for  things  which  he  cannot  avoid,  and  to  which  the  will 
of  God  constrains  him.  Let  us  see,  then,  how  this  ditficulty 
should  be  solved.  In  the  first  place,  the  declaration  of  Solo- 
mon ought  to  be  universally  admitted,  that  "  the  Lord  hath 
made  all  things  for  himself;  yea,  even  the  wicked  for  the  day 
of  evil."  (e)  Observe  ;  all  things  being  at  God's  disposal,  and 
the  decision  of  salvation  or  death  belonging  to  him,  he  orders 
all  things  by  his  counsel  and  decree  in  such  a  manner,  that 
some  men  are  born  devoted  from  the  womb  to  certain  death, 
that  his  name  may  be  glorified  in  their  destruction.  If  any 
one  pleads,  that  no  necessity  was  imposed  on  them  by  the 
providence  of  God,  but  rather  that  they  were  created  by  him 
in  such  a  state  in  consequence  of  his  foresight  of  their  future 
depravity,  —  it  will  amount  to  nothing.  The  old  writers  used, 
indeed,  to  adopt  this  solution,  though  not  without  some  degree 
of  hesitation  But  the  schoolmen  satisfy  themselves  with  it, 
as  though  it  admitted  of  no  opposition.  I  will  readily  grant, 
indeed,  that  mere  foreknowledge  lays  no  necessity  on  the 
creatures,  though  this  is  not  universally  admitted  ;  for  there  are 
some  who  maintain  it  to  be  the  actual  cause  of  what  comes  to 
pass.  But  Valla,  a  man  otherwise  not  much  versed  in  theology, 
appears  to  me  to  have  discovered  superior  acuteness  and  judi- 
ciousness, by  showing  that  this  controversy  is  unnecessary, 
because  both  life  and  death  are  acts  of  God's  will,  rather  than 
of  his  foreknowledge.  If  God  simply  foresaw  the  fates  of  men, 
and  did  not  also  dispose  and  fix  them  by  his  determination, 
there  would  be  room  to  agitate  the  question,  whether  his  pro- 
vidence or  foresight  rendered  them  at  all  necessary.  But  since 
he  foresees  future  events  only  in  consequence  of  his  decree, 

(e)  Prov.  xvi.  4. 
TOL.    II.  22 

170  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    UL 

that  they  shall  happen,  it  is  useless  to  contend  about  fore- 
knowledge, while  it  is  evident  that  all  things  come  to  pass 
rather  by  ordination  and  decree. 

VII.  They  say  it  is  nowhere  declared  in  express  terms,  that 
God  decreed  Adam  should  perish  by  his  defection ;  as  though 
the  same  God,  whom  the  Scripture  represents  as  doing  whatevei 
he  pleases,  created  the  noblest  of  his  creatures  without  any 
determinate  end.  They  maintain,  that  he  was  possessed  of 
free  choice,  that  he  might  be  the  author  of  his  own  fate,  but 
that  God  decreed  nothing  more  than  to  treat  him  according  to 
his  desert.  If  so  weak  a  scheme  as  this  be  received,  what  will 
become  of  God's  omnipotence,  by  which  he  governs  all  things 
according  to  his  secret  counsel,  independently  of  every  person 
or  thing  besides  ?  But  whether  they  wish  it  or  dread  it,  pre- 
destination exhibits  itself  in  Adam's  posterity.  For  the  loss 
of  salvation  by  the  whole  race  through  the  guilt  of  one  parent, 
was  an  event  that  did  not  happen  by  nature.  What  prevents 
their  acknowledging  concerning  one  man,  what  they  reluc- 
tantly grant  concerning  the  whole  species  ?  Why  should  they 
lose  their  labour  in  sophistical  evasions  ?  The  Scripture  pro- 
claims, that  all  men  were,  in  the  person  of  their  father,  sen- 
tenced to  eternal  death.  This,  not  being  attributable  to  na- 
ture, it  is  evident  must  have  proceeded  from  the  wonderful 
counsel  of  God.  The  perplexity  and  hesitation  discovered 
at  trifles  by  these  pious  defenders  of  the  justice  of  God,  and 
their  facility  in  overcoming  great  difficulties,  are  truly  absurd. 
I  inquire  again,  how  it  came  to  pass  that  the  fall  of  Adam,  in- 
dependent of  any  remedy,  should  involve  so  many  nations 
with  their  infant  children  in  eternal  death,  but  because  such 
was  the  will  of  God.  Their  tongues,  so  loquacious  on  every 
other  point,  must  here  be  struck  dumb.  It  is  an  awful  decree, 
I  confess ;  but  no  one  can  deny  that  God  foreknew  the  future 
final  fate  of  man  before  he  created  him,  and  that  he  did  fore- 
know it  because  it  was  appointed  by  his  own  decree.  If  any 
one  here  attacks  God's  foreknowledge,  he  rashly  and  incon- 
siderately stumbles.  For  what  ground  of  accusation  is  there 
against  the  heavenly  Judge  for  not  being  ignorant  of  futurity  ? 
If  there  is  any  just  or  plausible  complaint,  it  lies  against  pre- 
destination. Nor  should  it  be  thought  absurd  to  affirm,  that 
God  not  only  foresaw  the  fall  of  the  first  man,  and  the  ruin  of 
his  posterity  in  him,  but  also  arranged  all  by  the  determination 
of  his  own  will.  For  as  it  belongs  to  his  wisdom  to  foreknow 
every  thing  future,  so  it  belongs  to  his  power  to  rule  and  govern 
all  things  by  his  hand.  And  this  question  also,  as  well  as 
others,  is  judiciously  discussed  by  Augustine.  "  We  most 
wholesomely  confess,  what  we  most  rightly  believe,  that  the 
God  and  Lord  of  all  things,  who  created  every  thing  very 


good,  and  foreknew  that  evil  would  arise  out  of  good,  and 
knew  that  it  was  more  suitable  to  his  almighty  goodness  to 
bring  good  out  of  evil  than  not  to  suffer  evil  to  exist,  ordained 
the  life  of  angels  and  men  in  such  a  manner  as  to  exhibit  in 
it,  first,  what  free-will  was  capable  of  doing,  and  afterwards, 
what  could  be  effected  by  the  blessings  of  his  grace,  and  the 
sentence  of  his  justice." 

VIII.  Here  they  recur  to  the  distinction  between  will  and 
permission,  and  insist  that  God  permits  the  destruction  of  the 
impious,  but  does  not  will  it.  But  what  reason  shall  we  assign 
for  his  permitting  it,  but  because  it  is  his  will  ?  It  is  not  pro- 
bable, liowever,  that  man  procured  his  own  destruction  by  the 
mere  permission,  and  without  any  appointment,  of  God  ;  as 
though  God  had  not  determined  what  he  would  choose  to  be 
the  condition  of  the  principal  of  his  creatures.  I  shall  not  hesi- 
tate, therefore,  to  confess  plainly  with  Augustine,  "  that  the 
will  of  God  is  the  necessity  of  things,  and  that  what  he  has 
willed  will  necessarily  come  to  pass ;  as  those  things  are  really 
about  to  happen  which  he  has  foreseen."  Now,  if  either  Pela- 
gians, or  Manichasans,  or  Anabaptists,  or  Epicureans,  (for  we 
are  concerned  with  these  four  sects  on  this  argument,)  in  ex- 
cuse for  themselves  and  the  impious,  plead  the  necessity  with 
which  they  are  bound  by  God's  predestination,  —  they  allege 
nothing  applicable  to  the  case.  For  if  predestination  is  no 
other  than  a  dispensation  of  Divine  justice, — mysterious  in- 
deed, but  liable  to  no  blame,  —  since  it  is  certain  they  were 
not  unworthy  of  being  predestinated  to  that  fate,  it  is  equally 
certain,  that  the  destruction  they  incur  by  predestination  is 
consistent  with  the  strictest  justice.  Besides,  their  perdition" 
depends  on  the  Divine  predestination  in  such  a  manner,  that 
the  cause  and  matter  of  it  are  found  in  themselves.  For  the 
first  man  fell  because  the  Lord  had  determined  it  was  so 
expedient.  The  reason  of  this  determination  is  unknown  to 
us.  Yet  it  is  certain  that  he  determined  thus,  only  because  he 
foresaw  it  would  tend  to  the  just  illustration  of  the  glory  of 
his  name.  Whenever  you  hear  the  glory  of  God  mentioned, 
think  of.  his  justice.  For  what  deserves  praise  must  be  just^ 
Man  falls,  therefore,  according  to  the  appointment  of  Divine 
Providence  ;  but  he  falls  by  his  own  fault.  The  Lord  had  a 
little  before  pronounced  "  every  thing  that  he  had  made  "  to 
be  "  very  good."  Whence,  then,  comes  the  depravity  of  man 
to  revolt  from  his  God  ?  Lest  it  should  be  thought  to  come 
from  creation,  God  had  approved  and  commended  what  had 
proceeded  from  himself.  By  his  own  wickedness,  therefore, 
he  corrupted  the  nature  he  had  received  pure  from  the  Lord, 
and  by  his  fall  he  drew  all  his  posterity  with  him  into  destrac- 
tion.     Wherefore  let  us  rather  contemplate  the  evident  cause 

172  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III . 

of  condemnation,  which  is  nearer  to  us  in  the  corrupt  nature 
of  mankind,  than  search  after  a  hidden  and  altogether  incom- 
prehensible one  in  the  predestination  of  God.  And  we  should 
feel  no  reluctance  to  submit  our  understanding  to  the  infinite 
wisdom  of  God,  so  far  as  to  acquiesce  in  its  many  mysteries. 
To  be  ignorant  of  things  which  it  is  neither  possible  nor  law- 
ful to  know,  is  to  be  learned  :  an  eagerness  to  know  them,  is 
a  species  of  madness. 

IX.  Some  one  perhaps  will  say,  that  I  have  not  yet  adduced 
a  sufficient  answer  to  that  sacrilegious  excuse.  I  confess  it  is 
impossible  ever  wholly  to  prevent  the  petulance  and  murmurs 
of  impiety ;  yet  I  think  I  have  said  what  should  suffice  to  re- 
move not  only  all  just  ground,  but  every  plausible  pretext,  for 
objection.  The  reprobate  wish  to  be  thought  excusable  in 
sinning,  because  they  cannot  avoid  a  necessity  of  sinning  ; 
especially  since  this  necessity  is  laid  upon  them  by  the  ordina- 
tion of  God.  But  we  deny  this  to  be  a  just  excuse  ;  because 
the  ordination  of  God,  by  which  they  complain  that  they  are 
destined  to  destruction,  is  guided  by  equity,  unknown  indeed 
to  us,  but  indubitably  certain.  Whence  we  conclude,  that  they 
sustain  no  misery  that  is  not  inflicted  upon  them  by  the  most 
righteous  judgment  of  God.  In  the  next  place,  we  maintain 
that  they  act  preposterously,  who,  in  seeking  for  the  origin  of 
their  condemnation,  direct  their  views  to  the  secret  recesses 
of  the  Divine  counsel,  and  overlook  the  corruption  of  nature, 
which  is  its  real  source.  The  testimony  God  gives  to  his  cre- 
ation prevents  their  imputing  it  to  him.  For  though,  by  the 
eternal  providence  of  God,  man  was  created  to  that  misery  to 
which  he  is  subject,  yet  the  ground  of  it  he  has  derived  from 
himself,  not  from  God  ;  since  he  is  thus  ruined  solely  in  con- 
sequence of  his  having  degenerated  from  the  pure  creation  of 
God  to  vicious  and  impure  depravity. 

X.  The  doctrine  of  God's  predestination  is  calumniated  by 
its  adversaries,  as  involving  a  third  absurdity.  For  when  we 
attribute  it  solely  to  the  determination  of  the  Divine  will,  that 
those  whom  God  admits  to  be  heirs  of  his  kingdom  are  exempt- 
ed from  the  universal  destruction,  from  this  they  uifer,  that  he 
is  a  respecter  of  persons,  which  the  Scripture  uniformly  denies  ; 
that,  therefore,  either  the  Scripture  is  inconsistent  with  itself, 
or  in  the  election  of  God  regard  is  had  to  merits.  In  the  first 
place,  the  Scripture  denies  that  God  is  a  respecter  of  persons, 
in  a  different  sense  from  that  in  which  they  understand  it ;  for 
by  the  word  perso7i,  it  signifies  not  a  man,  but  those  things  in 
a  man,  which,  being  conspicuous  to  the  eyes,  usually  con- 
ciliate favour,  honour,  and  dignity,  or  attract  hatred,  contempt, 
and  disgrace.  Such  are  riches,  wealth,  power,  nobility,  magis- 
tracy, country,  elegance  of  form,  on  the  one  hand ;  and  on  the 


Other  hand,  poverty,  necessity,  ignoble  birth,  slovenliness,  con- 
tempt, and  the  like.  Thus  Peter  and  Paul  declare  that  God 
is  not  a  respecter  of  persons,  because  he  makes  no  dilference 
between  the  Jew  and  Greek,  to  reject  one  and  receive  the 
other,  merely  on  account  of  his  nation.  (/)  So  James  uses 
the  same  language  when  he  means  to  assert,  that  God  in  his 
judgment  pays  no  regard  to  riches,  (g)  And  Paul,  in  another 
place,  declares,  that  in  judging,  God  has  no  respect  to  liberty  or 
bondage,  (/i)  There  will,  therefore,  be  no  contradiction  in  our 
aflirmmg,  that  according  to  the  good  pleasure  of  his  will,  God 
chooses  whom  he  will  as  his  children,  irrespective  of  all  merit, 
while  he  rejects  and  reprobates  others.  Yet,  for  the  sake  of 
further  satisfaction,  the  matter  may  be  explained  in  the  follow- 
ing manner :  They  ask  how  it  happens,  that  of  two  persons 
distinguished  from  each  other  by  no  merit,  God,  in  his  election, 
leaves  one  and  takes  another.  1,  on  the  other  hand,  ask  them, 
whether  they  suppose  him  that  is  taken  to  possess  any  thing 
that  can  attract  the  favour  of  God.  If  they  confess  that  he  has 
not,  as  indeed  they  must,  it  will  follow,  that  God  looks  not  at 
man,  but  derives  his  motive  to  favour  him  from  his  own  good- 
ness. God's  election  of  one  man,  therefore,  while  he  rejects 
another,  proceeds  not  from  any  respect  of  man,  but  solely  from 
his  own  mercy ;  which  may  freely  display  and  exert  itself 
wherever  and  whenever  it  pleases.  For  we  have  elsewhere 
seen  also  that,  from  the  beginning,  not  many  noble,  or  wise,  or 
honourable  were  called,  (i)  that  God  might  humble  the  pride 
of  flesh ;  so  far  is  his  favour  from  being  confined  to  persons. 

XI.  Wherefore  some  people  falsely  and  wickedly  charge 
God  with  a  violation  of  equal  justice,  because,  in  his  predes- 
tination, he  observes  not  the  same  uniform  course  of  proceeding 
towards  all.  If  he  finds  all  guilty,  they  say,  let  him  punish  all 
alike  ;  if  innocent,  let  him  withhold  the  rigour  of  justice  from  all. 
But  they  deal  with  him  just  as  if  either  mercy  were  forbidden 
him,  or,  when  he  chooses  to  show  mercy,  he  were  constrained 
wholly  to  renounce  justice.  What  is  it  that  they  require  ? 
If  all  are  guilty,  that  they  shall  all  sulfer  the  same  punishment. 
We  confess  the  guilt  to  be  common,  but  we  say,  that  some  are 
relieved  by  Divine  mercy.  They  say,  Let  it  relieve  all.  But 
we  reply.  Justice  requires  that  he  should  likewise  show  him- 
self to  be  a  just  judge  in  the  infliction  of  punishment.  When 
they  object  to  this,  what  is  it  but  attempting  to  deprive  God  of 
the  opportunity  to  manifest  his  mercy,  or  to  grant  it  to  him,  at 
least,  on  the  condition  that  he  wholly  abandon  his  justice  ? 
Wherefore  there  is  the  greatest  propriety  in  these  observations 
of  Augustine  :   "  The  whole  mass  of  mankind  having  fallen  into 

(/)Actsx.  34.     Rom.  ii.  11.     Gal.  iii.  23.  (/«)  Col.  iii.  25.     Eph.  tI.  9. 

(g)  James  ii.  5.  (i)  1  Cor.  i.  26. 

t74»  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

condemnation  in  the  first  man,  the  vessels  that  are  formed  from 
it  to  honour,  are  not  vessels  of  personal  righteousness,  but  of 
Divine  mercy ;  and  the  formation  of  others  to  dishonour,  is  to 
be  attributed,  not  to  iniquity,  but  to  the  Divine  decree,"  &c. 
While  God  rewards  those  whom  he  rejects  with  deserved  punish- 
ment, and  to  those  whom  he  calls,  freely  gives  undeserved  grace, 
he  is  liable  to  no  accusation,  but  may  be  compared  to  a  creditor, 
who  has  power  to  release  one,  and  enforce  his  demands  on  another. 
The  Lord,  therefore,  may  give  grace  to  whom  he  will,  because 
he  is  merciful,  and  yet  not  give  it  to  all,  because  he  is  a  just 
judge  ;  may  manifest  his  free  grace,  by  giving  to  some  what 
they  never  deserve,  while,  by  not  giving  to  all,  he  declares  the 
demerit  of  all.  For  when  Paul  says,  that  "  God  hath  con- 
cluded all  under  sin,  that  he  might  have  mercy  upon  all,"  (l) 
it  must,  at  the  same  time,  be  added,  that  he  is  debtor  to  none  ; 
for  no  man  "  hath  first  given  to  him,"  to  entitle  him  to  demand 
a  recompense,  (w) 

XII.  Another  argument  often  urged  to  overthrow  predes- 
tination is,  that  its  establishment  would  destroy  all  solicitude 
and  exertion  for  rectitude  of  conduct.  For  who  can  hear, 
they  say,  that  either  life  or  death  is  appointed  for  him  by  God's 
eternal  and  immutable  decree,  without  immediately  concluding 
that  it  is  of  no  importance  how  he  conducts  himself;  since  no 
action  of  his  can  in  any  respect  either  impede  or  promote  the 
predestination  of  God  ?  Thus  all  will  abandon  themselves  to 
despair,  and  run  into  every  excess  to  which  their  licentious 
propensities  may  lead  them.  And  truly  this  objection  is  not 
altogether  destitute  of  truth  ;  for  there  are  many  impure  persons 
who  bespatter  the  doctrine  of  predestination  with  these  vile  blas- 
phemies, and  with  this  pretext  elude  all  admonitions  and  re- 
proofs :  God  knows  what  he  has  determined  to  do  with  us  : 
if  he  has  decreed  our  salvation,  he  will  bring  us  to  it  in  his 
own  time  ;  if  he  has  destined  us  to  death,  it  will  be  in  vain  for 
us  to  strive  against  it.  But  the  Scripture,  while  it  inculcates 
superior  awe  and  reverence  of  mind  in  the  consideration  of  so 
great  a  mystery,  instructs  the  godly  in  a  very  different  con- 
clusion, and  fully  refutes  the  wicked  and  unreasonable  in- 
ferences of  these  persons.  For  the  design  of  what  it  contains 
respecting  predestination  is,  not  that,  being  excited  to  presump- 
tion, we  may  attempt,  with  nefarious  temerity,  to  scrutinize  the 
inaccessible  secrets  of  God,  but  rather  that,  being  humbled  and 
dejected,  we  may  learn  to  tremble  at  his  justice  and  admire  his 
mercy.  At  this  object  believers  will  aim.  But  the  impure 
cavils  of  the  wicked  are  justly  restrained  by  Paul.  They 
profess  to  go  on  securely  in  their  vices  ;'  because  if  they  are  of 
the  number  of  the  elect,  such  conduct  will  not  prevent  their 

(/)  Gal.  iii.  22.     Rom.  xi.  32.  (w)  Rom.  xi.  35. 


being  finally  brought  into  life.  But  Paul  declares  the  end  of 
our  election  to  be,  that  we  may  lead  a  holy  and  blameless  life,  (w) 
If  the  object  of  election  be  holiness  of  life,  it  should  rather  awa- 
ken and  stimulate  us  to  a  cheerful  practice  of  it,  than  be  used  as 
a  pretext  for  slothfulness.  But  how  inconsistent  is  it  to  cease 
from  the  practice  of  virtue  because  election  is  sufficient  to  sal- 
vation, while  the  end  proposed  in  election  is  our  dilio-ent 
performance  of  virtuous  actions  !  Away,  then,  with  such  cor- 
rupt and  sacrilegious  perversions  of  the  whole  order  of  election. 
They  carry  their  blasphemies  much  further,  by  asserting,  that 
any  one  who  is  reprobated  by  God  will  labour  to  no  purpose  if 
he  endeavour  to  approve  himself  to  him  by  innocence  and  in- 
tegrity of  life  ;  but  here  they  are  convicted  of  a  most  impudent 
falsehood.  For  whence  could  such  exertion  originate  Out  from 
election  ?  Whoever  are  of  the  number  of  the  reprobate,  being 
vessels  made  to  dishonour,  cease  not  to  provoke  the  Divine 
wrath  against  them  by  continual  transgressions,  and  to  confirm 
by  evident  proofs  the  judgment  of  God  already  denounced 
against  them ;  so  that  their  striving  with  him  in  vain  is  what 
can  never  happen. 

XIII.  This  doctrine  is  maliciously  and  impudently  calimi- 
niated  by  others,  as  subversive  of  all  exhortations  to  piety  of 
life.  This  formerly  brought  great  odium  upon  Augustine,  which 
he  removed  by  his  Treatise  on  Correction  and  Grace,  addressed 
to  Valentine,  the  perusal  of  which  will  easily  satisfy  all  pious 
and  teachable  persons.  Yet  I  will  touch  on  a  few  things,  which 
I  hope  will  convince  such  as  are  honest  and  not  contentious. 
How  openly  and  loudly  gratuitous  election  was  preached  by 
Paul,  we  have  already  seen ;  was  he  therefore  cold  in  admoni- 
tions and  exhortations  ?  Let  these  good  zealots  compare  his  vehe- 
mence with  theirs  ;  theirs  will  be  found  ice  itself  in  comparison 
with  his  incredible  fervour.  And  certainly  every  scruple  is  re- 
moved by  this  principle,  that  "  God  hath  not  called  us  to  unelean- 
ness,  but  that  every  one  should  know  how  to  possess  his  vessel 
in  sanctification  and  honour ;  "  (o)  and  again,  that  "  we  are  his 
workmanship,  created  in  Christ  Jesus  unto  good  works,  which 
God  hath  before  ordained,  that  we  should  walk  in  them."(j9) 
Indeed,  a  slight  acquaintance  with  Paul  will  enable  any  one  to 
understand,  without  tedious  arguments,  how  easily  he  recon- 
ciles things  which  they  pretend  to  be  repugnant  to  each  other. 
Christ  commands  men  to  believe  in  him.  Yet  his  limitation  is 
neither  false  nor  contrary  to  his  command,  when  he  says,  "  No 
man  can  come  unto  me,  except  it  were  given  unto  him  of  my 
Father."  (q)     Let  preaching  therefore  have  its  course  to  bring 

(n)  Ephes.  i.  4.  (p)  Ephes.  ii.  10. 

(«)  1  Thess.  iv.  4,  7.  (y)  John  vi.  65. 

176  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOR    III, 

men  to  faith,  and  by  a  continual  progress  to  promote  their  per- 
severance. Nor  let  the  knowledge  of  predestination  be  pre- 
vented, that  the  obedient  may  not  be  prond  as  of  any  thing  of 
their  oAvn,  but  may  glory  in  the  Lord.  Christ  had  some 
particular  meaning  in  saying,  "  Who  hath  ears  to  hear,  let  him 
hear,"(r)  Therefore  when  we  exhort  and  preach,  persons  en- 
dued with  ears  readily  obey  ;  and  those  who  are  destitute  of 
them  exhibit  an  accomplishment  of  the  Scripture,  that  hearing 
they  hear  not.  (s)  "But  why  (says  Augustine)  should  some 
have  ears,  and  others  not  ?  '  Who  hath  known  the  mind  of  the 
Lord  ? '  (t)  Must  that  which  is  evident  be  denied,  because  that 
which  is  concealed  cannot  be  comprehended  ?  "  These  obser- 
vations I  have  faithfully  borrowed  from  Augustine  ;  but  as  his 
words  will  perhaps  have  more  authority  than  mine,  I  will 
proceed  to  an  exact  quotation  of  them.  "  If,  on  hearing  this, 
some  persons  become  torpid  and  slothful,  and  exchanging  labour 
for  lawless  desire,  pursue  the  various  objects  of  concupiscence, 
must  what  is  declared  concerning  the  foreknowledge  of  God  be 
therefore  accounted  false  ?  If  God  foreknew  that  they  would 
be  good,  will  they  not  be  so,  in  whatever  wickedness  they  now 
live  ?  and  if  he  foreknew  that  they  would  be  wicked,  will  they 
not  be  so,  in  whatever  goodness  they  now  appear  ?  Are  these, 
then,  sufficient  causes  why  the  truths  which  are  declared  con- 
cerning the  foreknowledge  of  God  should  be  either  denied  or 
passed  over  in  silence  ?  especially  when  the  consequence  of 
silence  respecting  these  would  be  the  adoption  of  other  errors. 
The  reason  of  concealing  the  truth  (he  says)  is  one  thing,  and 
the  necessity  of  declaring  it  is  another.  It  would  be  tedious 
to  inquire  after  all  the  reasons  for  passing  the  truth  over  in 
silence ;  but  this  is  one  of  them ;  lest  those  who  understand  it 
not  should  become  worse,  while  we  wish  to  make  those  who  un- 
derstand it  better  informed  ;  who,  indeed,  are  not  made  wiser  by 
our  declaring  any  such  thing,  nor  are  they  rendered  worse.  But 
since  the  truth  is  of  such  a  nature,  that  when  we  speak  of  it,  he 
becomes  worse  who  cannot  understand  it,  and  when  we  are  silent 
about  it,  he  who  can  understand  it  becomes  worse,  —  what  do 
we  think  ought  to  be  done  ?  Should  not  the  truth  rather  be 
spoken,  that  he  who  is  capable  may  understand  it,  than  buried 
in  silence ;  the  consequence  of  which  would  be,  not  only  that 
neither  would  know  it,  but  even  the  more  intelligent  of  the  two 
would  become  worse,  who,  if  he  heard  and  understood  it,  would 
also  teach  it  to  many  others  ?  And  we  are  unwilling  to  say  what 
we  are  authorized  to  say  by  the  testimony  of  Scripture.  For 
•■ve  are  afraid,  indeed,  lest  by  speaking  we  may  offend  him  who 
rannot  understand,  but  are  not  afraid  lest  in  consequence  of  our 

(r)  Matt.  xiii.  9  (s)  Isaiah  vi.  9.  {0  Rom.  xi.  34. 


silence,  he  who  is  capable  of  understanding  the  truth  may  be 
deceived  by  falsehood."  And  condensing  this  sentiment  after- 
wards into  a  smaller  compass,  he  places  it  in  a  still  stronger 
light.  "  Wherefore,  if  the  apostles  and  the  succeeding  teachers 
of  the  Church  both  piously  treated  of  God's  eternal  election, 
and  held  believers  under  the  discipline  of  a  pious  life,  what 
reason  have  these  our  opponents,  when  silenced  by  the  invin- 
cible force  of  truth,  to  suppose  themselves  right  in  maintaining 
that  what  is  spokenof  predestination,  although  it  be  true,  ought 
not  to  be  preached  to  the  people  ?  But  it  must  by  all  means 
be  preached,  that  he  who  has  ears  to  hear  may  hear.  But  who 
has  them,  unless  he  receives  them  from  him  who  has  promised 
to  bestow  them  ?  Certainly  he  who  receives  not  may  reject, 
provided  he  who  receives,  takes  and  drinks,  drinks  and  lives. 
For  as  piety  must  be  preached  that  God  may  be  rightly  wor- 
shipped, so  also  must  predestination,  that  he  who  has  ears  to 
hear  of  the  grace  of  God,  may  glory  in  God,  and  not  in  himself" 
XIV.  And  yet,  being  peculiarly  desirous  of  edification,  that 
holy  man  regulates  his  mode  of  teaching  the  truth,  so  that 
offence  may  as  far  as  possible  be  prudently  avoided.  For  he 
suggests  that  whatever  is  asserted  with  truth  may  also  be  de- 
livered in  a  suitable  manner.  If  any  one  address  the  people  in 
such  a  way  as  this,  If  you  believe  not,  it  is  because  you  are  by 
a  Divine  decree  already  destined  to  destruction,  —  he  not  only 
cherishes  slothfulness,  but  even  encourages  wickedness.  If  any 
one  extend  the  declaration  to  the  future,  that  they  who  hear 
will  never  believe  because  they  are  reprobated,  —  this  would  be 
rather  imprecation  than  instruction.  Such  persons,  therefore,  as 
foolish  teachers,  or  inauspicious,  ominous  prophets,  Augustine 
charges  to  depart  from  the  Church.  In  another  place,  indeed, 
he  justly  maintains,  "  that  a  man  then  profits  by  correction,  when 
he,  who  causes  whom  he  pleases  to  profit  even  without  correc- 
tion, compassionates  and  assists.  But  why  some  in  one  way, 
and  some  in  another  ?  Far  be  it  from  us  to  ascribe  the  choice 
to  the  clay  instead  of  the  potter."  Again  afterwards  :  "  When 
men  are  either  introduced  or  restored  into  the  way  of  right- 
eousness by  correction,  who  works  salvation  in  their  hearts, 
but  he  who  gives  the  increase,  whoever  plants  and  waters? 
he  whose  determination  to  save  is  not  resisted  by  any  free- 
will of  man.  It  is  beyond  all  doubt,  therefore,  that  the  will  of 
God,  who  has  done  whatever  he  has  pleased  in  heaven  and  in 
earth,  and  who  has  done  even  things  that  are  yet  future,  cannot 
possibly  be  resisted  by  the  will  of  man,  so  as  to  prevent  the 
execution  of  his  purposes ;  since  he  controls  the  wills  of  men 
according  to  his  pleasure."  Again  :  "  When  he  designs  to  bring 
men  to  himself,  does  he  bind  them  by  corporeal  bonds  ?  He  acts 
inwardly ;  he  inwardly  seizes  their  hearts ;  he  inwardly  moves 

VOL.    XL  23 

178  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

their  hearts,  and  draws  them  by  their  wills,  which  he  has 
wrought  in  them."  But  he  immediately  subjoins,  what  must 
by  no  means  be  omitted  ;  "  that  because  we  know  not  who 
belongs,  or  does  not  belong,  to  the  number  of  the  predestinated, 
it  becomes  us  affectionately  to  desire  the  salvation  of  all.  The 
consequence  will  be,  that  whomsoever  we  meet  we  shall  en- 
deavour to  make  him  a  partaker  of  peace.  But  our  peace  shall 
rest  upon  the  sons  of  peace.  On  our  part,  therefore,  salutary 
and  severe  reproof,  like  a  medicine,  must  be  administered  to 
all,  that  they  may  neither  perish  themselves  nor  destroy  others  ; 
but  it  will  be  the  province  of  God  to  render  it  useful  to  them 
whom  he  had  foreknown  and  predestinated." 



But,  in  order  to  a  further  elucidation  of  the  subject,  it  is  ne- 
cessary to  treat  of  the  calling  of  the  elect,  and  of  the  blinding 
and  hardening  of  the  impious.  On  the  former  I  have  already 
made  a  few  observations,  with  a  view  to  refute  the  error  of 
those  who  suppose  the  generality  of  the  promises  to  put  all 
mankind  on  an  equality.  But  the  discriminating  election  of 
God,  which  is  otherwise  concealed  within  himself,  he  manifests 
only  by  his  calling,  which  may  therefore  with  propriety  be  termed 
the  testification  or  evidence  of  it.  "  For  whom  he  did  fore- 
know, he  also  did  predestinate  to  be  conformed  to  the  image  of 
his  Son.  Moreover,  whom  he  did  predestinate,  them  he  also 
called  ;  and  whom  he  called,  them  he  also  justified,"  in  order 
to  their  eventual  glorification,  (w)  Though  by  choosing  his 
people,  the  Lord  has  adopted  them  as  his  children,  yet  we  see 
that  they  enter  not  on  the  possession  of  so  great  a  blessing  till 
they  are  called;  on  the  other  hand,  as  soon  as  they  are  called, 
they  immediately  enjoy  some  communication  of  his  election. 
On  this  account  Paul  calls  the  Spirit  received  by  them,  both 
"the  Spirit  of  adoption,  and.  the  seal  and  earnest  of  the  future 
inheritance  ;  "  (x)  because,  by  his  testimony,  he  confirms  and 
seals  to  their  hearts  the  certainty  of  their  future  adoption.  For 
though  the  preaching  of  the  gospel  is  a  stream  from  the  source 

(m)  Rom.  viii.  29,  30.  (x)  Rom.  viii.  15,  16.     Ephes.  i.  13,  14. 


of  election,  yet,  being  common  also  to  the  reprobate,  it  would  of 
itself  be  no  solid  proof  of  it.  For  God  effectually  teaches  his 
elect,  to  bruig  them  to  faith,  as  we  have  already  cited  from  the 
words  of  Christ :  "  He  which  is  of  God,  he,"  and  he  alone, 
"  hath  seen  the  Father."  (y)  Again:  "  I  have  manifested  thy 
name  unto  the  men  which  thou  gavest  me."  (z)  For  he  says 
in  another  place,  "  No  man  can  come  to  me,  except  the  Father 
draw  him."  (a)  This  passage  is  judiciously  explained  by  Au- 
gustine in  the  following  words  :  "  If,  according  to  the  declaration 
of  truth,  every  one  that  has  learned  comes,  whosoever  comes 
not,  certainly  has  not  learned.  It  does  not  necessarily  follow 
that  he  who  can  come  actually  comes,  unless  he  has  both 
willed  and  done  it ;  but  every  one  that  has  learned  of  the  Fa- 
ther, not  only  can  come,  but  also  actually  comes  ;  where  there 
is  an  immediate  union  of  the  advantage  of  possibility,  the  in- 
clination of  the  will,  and  the  consequent  action."  In  another 
place  he  is  still  clearer  :  "  Every  one  that  hath  heard  and  learned 
of  the  Father,  cometh  unto  me.  Is  not  this  saying.  There  is 
no  one  that  hears  and  learns  of  the  Father,  and  comes  not  unto 
me  ?  For  if  every  one  that  has  heard  and  learned  of  the  Father 
comes,  certainly  every  one  that  comes  not  has  neither  heard  nor 
learned  of  the  Father ;  for  if  he  had  heard  and  learned,  he  would 
come.  Very  remote  from  carnal  observation  is  this  school,  in 
which  men  hear  and  learn  of  the  Father  to  come  to  the  Son.'- 
Just  after  he  says,  "  This  grace,  which  is  secretly  communica- 
ted to  the  hearts  of  men,  is  received  by  no  hard  heart ;  for  the 
first  object  of  its  communication  is,  that  hardness  of  heart  may 
be  taken  away.  When  the  Father  is  heard  within  therefore, 
he  takes  away  the  heart  of  stone,  and  gives  a  heart  of  flesh. 
For  thus  he  forms  children  of  promise  and  vessels  of  mercy 
whom  he  has  prepared  for  glory.  Why,  then,  does  he  not 
teach  all,  that  they  may  come  to  Christ,  but  because  all  whom 
he  teaches,  he  teaches  in  mercy  ?  but  whom  he  teaches  not,  he 
teaches  not  in  judgment ;  for  he  hath  mercy  on  whom  he  will 
have  mercy,  and  whom  he  will  he  hardeneth."  Those  whom 
God  has  chosen,  therefore,  he  designates  as  his  children,  and  de- 
termines himself  to  be  their  Father.  By  calling,  he  introduces 
them  into  his  family,  and  unites  them  to  himself,  that  they  may 
be  one.  By  connecting  calling  with  election,  the  Scripture 
evidently  suggests  that  nothing  is  requisite  to  it  but  the  free 
mercy  of  God.  For  if  we  inquire  whom  he  calls,  and  for  what 
reason,  the  answer  is,  those  whom  he  had  elected.  But  when 
we  come  to  election,  we  see  nothing  but  mercy  on  every  side. 
And  so  that  observation  of  Paul  is  very  applicable  here —  "  It  is 
not  of  him  that  willeth,  nor  of  him  that  runneth,  but  of  God 
that  showeth  mercy  ; "  but  not  as  it  is  commonly  understood 

(y)  John  vi.  46.  (z)  John  xvii.  6.  (a)  John  vi.  44. 

180  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

by  those  who  make  a  distribution  between  the  grace  of  God, 
and  the  will  and  exertion  of  man.  For  they  say,  that  human 
desires  and  endeavours  have  no  efficacy  of  themselves,  unless 
they  are  rendered  successful  by  the  grace  of  God ;  but  main- 
tain that,  with  the  assistance  of  his  blessing,  these  things 
have  also  their  share  in  procuring  salvation.  To  refute  their 
cavil,  I  prefer  Augustine's  words  to  my  own.  "  If  the  apostle 
only  meant  that  it  is  not  of  him  that  wills,  or  of  him  that 
runs,  without  the  assistance  of  the  merciful  Lord,  we  may 
retort  the  converse  proposition,  that  it  is  not  of  mercy  alone 
without  the  assistance  of  willing  and  running."  If  this  be  mani- 
festly impious,  we  may  be  certain  that  the  apostle  ascribes  every 
thing  to  the  Lord's  mercy,  and  leaves  nothing  to  our  wills  or 
exertions.  This  was  the  opinion  of  that  holy  man.  Nor  is  the 
least  regard  due  to  their  paltry  sophism,  that  Paul  would  not 
have  expressed  himself  so,  if  we  had  no  exertion  or  will.  For 
he  considered  not  what  was  in  man  ;  but  seeing  some  persons 
attribute  salvation  partly  to  human  industry,  he  simply  con- 
demned their  error  in  the  former  part  of  the  sentence,  and  in 
the  latter,  vindicated  the  claim  of  Divine  mercy  to  the  whole 
accomplishment  of  salvation.  And  what  do  the  prophets,  but 
perpetually. proclaim  the  gratuitous  calling  of  God? 

II.  This  point  is  further  demonstrated  by  the  very  nature 
and  dispensation  of  calling,  which  consists  not  in  the  mere 
preaching  of  the  word,  but  in  the  accompanying  illumination 
of  the  Spirit.  To  whom  God  offers  his  word,  we  are  informed 
in  the  prophet :  "  I  am  sought  of  them  that  asked  not  for  me  : 
I  am  found  of  them  that  sought  me  not :  I  said.  Behold  me, 
behold  me,  unto  a  nation  that  was  not  called  by  my  name."  (b) 
And  lest  the  Jews  should  suppose  that  this  clemency  ex- 
tended only  to  the  Gentiles,  he  recalls  to  their  remembrance 
the  situation  from  which  he  took  their  father  Abraham,  when 
he  deigned  to  draw  him  to  himself;  that  was  from  the  midst 
of  idolatry,  in  which  he  and  all  his  family  were  sunk,  (c) 
When  he  first  shines  upon  the  undeserving  with  the  light  of 
his  word,  he  thereby  exhibits  a  most  brilliant  specimen  of  his 
free  goodness.  Here,  then,  the  infinite  goodness  of  God  is  dis- 
played, but  not  to  the  salvation  of  all ;  for  heavier  judgment 
awaits  the  reprobate,  because  they  reject  the  testimony  of  Di- 
vine love.  And  God  also,  to  manifest  his  glory,  withdraws 
from  them  the  efficacious  influence  of  his  Spirit.  This  inter- 
nal call,  therefore,  is  a  pledge  of  salvation,  which  cannot  possibly 
deceive.  To  this  purpose  is  that  passage  of  John  —  "Hereby 
we  know  that  he  abideth  in  us,  by  the  Spirit  which  he  hath 
given  us."  (c?)  And  lest  the  flesh  should  glory  in  having  an- 
B  we  red  at   least  to  his  call,   and  accepted  his  free  ofters,   he 

(b)  Isaiah  Ixv.  1.  (c)  Joshua  xxiv.  2,  3.  (</)  1  John  iii.  24. 


affirms  that  men  have  no  ears  to  hear,  or  eyes  to  see,  but  such 
as  he  has  formed ;  and  that  he  acts  in  this,  not  according  to 
individual  gratitude,  but  according  to  his  own  election.  Of  this 
fact  Luke  gives  us  an  eminent  example,  where  Jews  and  Gentiles 
in  common  heard  the  preaching  of  Paul  and  Barnabas.  Though 
they  were  all  instructed  on  that  occasion  with  the  same  dis- 
course, it  is  narrated  that  "  as  many  as  were  ordained  to  eternal 
life,  believed."  {e)  With  what  face,  then,  can  we  deny  the 
freeness  of  calling,  in  which  election  reigns  alone,  even  to 
the  last? 

III.  Here  two  errors  are  to  be  avoided.  For  some  suppose 
man  to  be  a  cooperator  with  God,  so  that  the  validity  of  elec- 
tion depends  on  his  consent  ;  thus,  according  to  them,  the  will 
of  man  is  superior  to  the  counsel  of  God.  As  though  the 
Scripture  taught,  that  we  are  only  given  an  ability  to  believe, 
and  not  faith  itself.  Others,  not  thus  enervating  the  grace  of 
the  Holy  Spirit,  yet  induced  by  I  know  not  what  mode  of  rea- 
soning, suspend  election  on  that  which  is  subsequent  to  it ;  as 
though  it  were  doubtful  and  ineffectual  till  it  is  confirmed  by 
faith.  That  this  is  its  confirmation  to  us  is  very  clear  ;  that  it 
is  the  manifestation  of  God's  secret  counsel  before  concealed,  we 
have  already  seen  ;  but  all  that  we  are  to  understand  by  this,  is 
that  what  was  before  unknown  is  verified,  and  as  it  were  ratified 
with  a  seal.  But  it  is  contrary  to  the  truth  to  assert,  that  elec- 
tion has  no  efficacy  till  after  we  have  embraced  the  gospel, 
and  that  this  circumstance  gives  it  all  its  energy.  The  cer- 
tainty of  it,  indeed,  we  are  to  seek  here  ;  for  if  we  attempt  to 
penetrate  to  the  eternal  decree  of  God,  we  shall  be  ingulfed  in 
the  profound  abyss.  But  when  God  has  discovered  it  to  us, 
we  must  ascend  to  loftier  heights,  that  the  cause  may  not  be 
lost  in  the  effect.  For  what  can  be  more  absurd  and  inconsis- 
tent, when  the  Scripture  teaches  that  we  are  illuminated 
according  as  God  has  chosen  us,  than  that  our  eyes  should  be  so 
dazzled  with  the  blaze  of  this  light  as  to  refuse  to  contemplate 
election  ?  At  the  same  time  I  admit  that,  in  order  to  attain  an 
assurance  of  our  salvation,  we  ought  to  begin  with  the  word, 
and  that  with  it  our  confidence  ought  to  be  satisfied,  so  as  to 
call  upon  God  as  our  Father.  For  some  persons,  to  obtain 
certainty  respecting  the  counsel  of  God,  "  which  is  nigh  unto 
us,  in  our  mouth  and  in  our  heart,"  (/)  preposterously  wish 
to  soar  above  the  clouds.  Such  temerity,  therefore,  should  be 
restrained  by  the  sobriety  of  faith,  that  we  may  be  satisfied 
with  the  testimony  of  God  in  his  external  word  respecting  his 
secret  grace  ;  only  the  channel,  which  conveys  to  us  such  a 
copious  stream  to  satisfy  our  thirst,  must  not  deprive  the  foun- 
tain-head of  the  honour  which  belongs  to  it. 

(e)  Acts  xiii.  48.  (/)  Deut.  xxx.  14. 

182  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

IV.  As  it  is  erroneous,  therefore,  to  suspend  the  efficacy  of 
election  upon  the  faith  of  the  gospel,  by  which  we  discovei 
our  interest  in  election,  so  we  shall  observe  the  best  order,  if, 
in  seeking  an  assurance  of  our  election,  we  confine  our  atten- 
tion to  those  subsequent  signs  which  are  certain  attestations  of 
It.  Satan  never  attacks  believers  with  a  more  grievous  or 
dangerous  temptation,  than  when  he  disquiets  them  with 
doubts  of  their  election,  and  stimulates  to  an  improper  desire 
of  seeking  it  in  a  wrong  way.  I  call  it  seeking  in  a  wrong 
way,  when  miserable  man  endeavours  to  force  his  way  into  the 
secret  recesses  of  Divine  wisdom,  and  to  penetrate  even  to  the 
nighest  eternity,  that  he  may  discover  what  is  determined  con- 
cerning him  at  the  tribunal  of  God.  Then  he  precipitates 
himself  to  be  absorbed  in  the  profound  of  an  unfathomable 
gulf;  then  he  entangles  himself  in  numberless  and  inextricable 
snares ;  then  he  sinks  himself  in  an  abyss  of  total  darkness.  For 
it  is  right  that  the  folly  of  the  human  mind  should  be  thus 
punished  with  horrible  destruction,  when  it  attempts  by  its  own 
ability  to  rise  to  the  summit  of  Divine  wisdom.  This  tempta- 
tion is  the  more  fatal,  because  there  is  no  other  to  which  men 
in  general  have  a  stronger  propensity.  For  there  is  scarcely  a 
person  to  be  found,  whose  mind  is  not  sometimes  struck  with 
this  thought  —  Whence  can  you  obtain  salvation  but  from  the 
election  of  God  ?  And  what  revelation  have  you  received  of 
election  ?  If  this  has  once  impressed  a  man,  it  either  perpetu- 
ally excruciates  the  unhappy  being  with  dreadful  torments, 
or  altogether  stupefies  him  with  astonishment.  Indeed,  I 
should  desire  no  stronger  argument  to  prove  how  extremely 
erroneous  the  conceptions  of  such  persons  are  respecting  pre- 
destination, than  experience  itself;  since  no  error  can  affect 
the  mind,  more  pestilent  than  such  as  disturbs  the  conscience, 
and  destroys  its  peace  and  tranquillity  towards  God.  There- 
fore, if  we  dread  shipwreck,  let  us  anxiously  beware  of  this 
rock,  on  which  none  ever  strike  without  being  destroyed. 
But  though  the  discussion  of  predestination  may  be  compared 
to  a  dangerous  ocean,  yet,  in  traversing  over  it,  the  navigation 
is  safe  and  serene,  and  I  will  also  add  pleasant,  unless  any  one 
freely  wishes  to  expose  himself  to  danger.  For  as  those  who, 
in  order  to  gain  an  assurance  of  their  election,  examine  into 
the  eternal  counsel  of  God  without  the  word,  plunge  them- 
selves into  a  fatal  abyss,  so  they  who  investigate  it  in  a  regular 
and  orderly  manner,  as  it  is  contained  in  the  word,  derive 
from  such  inquiry  the  benefit  of  peculiar  consolation.  Let  this, 
then,  be  our  way  of  inquiry  ;  to  begin  and  end  with  the  calling 
of  God.  Though  this  prevents  not  believers  from  perceiv- 
ing, that  the  blessings  they  daily  receive  from  the  hand  of  God 


descend  from  that  secret  adoption ;  as  Isaiah  introduces  them, 
saying,  "  Thou  hast  done  wonderful  things ;  thy  counsels  of 
old  are  faithfulness  and  truth  ;  "  (g)  for  by  adoption,  as  by  a 
token,  God  chooses  to  confirm  to  us  all  that  we  are  permitted 
to  know  of  his  counsel.  Lest  this  should  be  thought  a  weak 
testimony,  let  us  consider  how  much  clearness  and  certainty  it 
allbrds  us.  Bernard  has  some  pertinent  observations  or.  thif 
subject.  After  speaking  of  the  reprobate,  he  says,  "  The  cout? 
sel  of  God  stands,  the  sentence  of  peace  stands,  respecting  them 
who  fear  him,  concealing  their  faults  and  rewarding  their 
virtues  ;  so  that  to  them,  not  only  good  things,  but  evil  ones 
also,  co6}5erate  for  good.  Who  shall  lay  any  thing  to  the 
charge  of  God's  elect  ?  It  is  sufficient  for  me,  for  all  righteous- 
ness, to  possess  his  favour  alone,  against  whom  alone  I  have 
sinned.  All  that  he  has  decreed  not  to  impute  to  me,  is  just 
as  if  it  had  never  been."  And  a  httle  after:  "  O  place  of  true 
rest,  which  I  might  not  improperly  call  a  bed-chamber,  in 
which  God  is  viewed,  not  as  disturbed  with  anger,  or  filled 
with  care,  but  where  his  will  is  proved  to  be  good,  and  accept- 
able, and  perfect.  This  view  is  not  terrifying,  but  soothing  ; 
it  excites  no  restless  curiosity,  but  allays  it  :  it  fatigues  not  the 
senses,  but  tranquillizes  them.  Here  true  rest  is  enjoyed. 
A  tranquil  God  tranquillizes  all  things ;  and  to  behold  rest,  is 
to  enjoy  repose." 

V.  In  the  first  place,  if  we  seek  the  fatherly  clemency  and 
propitious  heart  of  God,  our  eyes  must  be  directed  to  Christ,  in 
whom  alone  the  Father  is  well  pleased,  (h)  If  we  seek  salva- 
tion, life,  and  the  immortality  of  the  heavenly  kingdom,  re- 
course must  be  had  to  no  other  ;  for  he  alone  is  the  Fountain 
of  life,  the  Anchor  of  salvation,  and  the  Heir  of  the  kingdom 
of  heaven.  Now,  what  is  the  end  of  election,  but  that,  being 
adopted  as  children  by  our  "heavenly  Father,  wc  may  by  his 
favour  obtain  salvation  and  immortality  ?  Consider  and  inves- 
tigate it  as  much  as  you  please,  you  will  not  find  its  ultimate 
scope  extend  beyond  this.  The  persons,  therefore,  whom  God 
has  adopted  as  his  children,  he  is  said  to  have  chosen,  not  in 
themselves,  but  in  Christ  ;  because  it  was  impossible  for  him 
to  love  them,  except  in  him ;  or  to  honour  them  with  the 
inheritance  of  his  kingdom,  unless  previously  made  partakers 
of  him.  But  if  we  are  chosen  in  him,  we  shall  find  no  assu- 
rance of  our  election  in  ourselves  ;  nor  even  in  God  the  Father, 
considered  alone,  abstractedly  from  the  Son.  Christ,  therefore, 
is  the  mirror,  in  which  it  behoves  us  to  contemplate  our  elec- 
tion ;  and  here  we  may  do  it  with  safety.  For  as  the  Father 
has  determined  to  unite  to  the  body  of  his  Son  all  who  are  the 

(g)  Isaiah  xxv.  1.  (/t)  Matt.  iii.  17. 

184  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

objects  of  his  eternal  choice,  that  he  may  have,  as  his  children, 
all  that  he  recognizes  among  his  members,  we  have  a  testimony 
sufficiently  clear  and  strong,  that  if  we  have  communion  with 
Christ,  we  are  written  in  the  book  of  life.  And  he  gave  us 
this  certain  communion  with  himself,  when  he  testified  by  the 
preaching  of  the  gospel,  that  he  was  given  to  us  by  the  Father, 
to  be  ours  with  all  his  benefits.  We  are  said  to  put  him  on, 
and  to  grow  up  into  him,  that  we  may  live  because  he  lives. 
This  doctrine  is  often  repeated.  "  God  spared  not  his  only 
begotten  Son,  that  whosoever  believeth  in  him  should  not 
perish."  (i)  "  He  that  believeth  on  him,  is  passed  from  death 
unto  life,"  (k)  In  which  sense  he  calls  himself  "  The  bread 
of  life,  he  that  eateth  which,  shall  live  for  ever."  (Z)  He,  I 
say,  is  our  witness,  that  all  who  receive  him  by  faith  shall  be 
considered  as  the  children  of  his  heavenly  Father.  If  we 
desire  any  thing  more  than  being  numbered  among  the  sons 
and  heirs  of  God,  we  must  rise  above  Christ.  If  this  is  our 
highest  limit,  what  folly  do  we  betray  in  seeking  out  of  him, 
that  which  we  have  already  obtained  in  him,  and  which  can 
never  be  found  any  where  else  !  Besides,  as  he  is  the  Father's 
eternal  Wisdom,  immutable  Truth,  and  determined  Counsel, 
we  have  no  reason  to  fear  the  least  variation  in  the  declarations 
of  his  word  from  that  will  of  the  Father,  which  is  the  object 
of  our  inquiry ;  indeed,  he  faithfully  reveals  it  to  us,  as  it  has 
been  from  the  beginning,  and  will  ever  continue  to  be.  This 
doctrine  ought  to  have  a  practical  influence  on  our  prayers. 
For  though  faith  in  election  animates  us  to  call  upon  God,  yet 
it  would  be  preposterous  to  obtrude  it  upon  him  when  we  pray, 
or  to  stipulate  this  condition  —  O  Lord,  if  I  am  elected,  hear 
me  ;  since  it  is  his  pleasure  that  we  should  be  satisfied  with 
his  promises,  and  make  no  further  inquiries  whether  he  will  be 
propitious  to  our  prayers.  This  prudpnce  will  extricate  us 
from  many  snares,  if  we  know  how  to  make  a  right  use  of 
what  has  been  rightly  written  ;  but  we  must  not  inconsider- 
ately apply  to  various  purposes,  what  ought  to  be  restricted 
to  the  object  particularly  designed. 

VI.  For  the  establishment  of  our  confidence,  there  is  also 
another  confirmation  of  election,  which,  we  have  said,  is  con- 
nected with  our  calling.  For  those  whom  Christ  illuminates 
with  the  knowledge  of  his  name,  and  introduces  into  the  bosom 
of  his  Church,  he  is  said  to  receive  into  his  charge  and  protection. 
And  all  whom  he  receives  are  said  to  be  committed  and  in- 
trusted to  him  by  the  Father,  to  be  kept  to  eternal  life.  What 
do  we  wish  for  ourselves  ?  Christ  loudly  proclaims  that  all 
whose  salvation  was  designed  by  the  Father,  had  been  deli- 

(i)  Rom.  viii.  32.    John  iii.  15, 16.        {k)  John  v.  24.        (0  John  vi.  35—58. 


vered  by  him  into  his  protection,  (w)  If,  therefore,  we  want 
to  ascertain  whether  God  is  concerned  for  our  salvation,  let  us  hi- 
quire  whether  he  has  committed  us  to  Christ,  whom  he  constitut- 
ed the  only  Saviour  of  all  his  people.  Now,  if  we  doubt  Avhether 
Christ  has  received  us  into  his  charge  and  custody,  he  obviates 
this  doubt,  by  freely  oifering  himself  as  our  Shepherd,  and  declar- 
ing that  if  we  hear  his  voice,  we  shall  be  numbered  among  his 
sheep.  We  therefore  embrace  Christ,  thus  kindly  oflered  to  us 
and  advancing  to  meet  us ;  and  he  will  number  us  with  his 
sheep,  and  preserve  us  enclosed  in  his  fold.  But  yet  we  feel 
anxiety  for  our  future  state  ;  for  as  Paul  declares  that  "  whom 
he  predestinated,  them  he  also  called,"  (n)  so  Christ  informs 
us  that  "many  are  called,  but  few  chosen."  (o)  Besides, 
Paul  himself  also,  in  another  place,  cautions  against  carelessness, 
saying,  "  Let  him  that  thinketh  he  standeth,  take  heed  lest  he 
fall."  (p)  Again  :  "  Art  thou  grafted  among  the  people  of  God  ? 
Be  not  high-minded,  but  fear.  God  is  able  to  cut  thee  off  again, 
and  graft  in  others."  (^)  Lastly,  experience  itself  teaches  us 
that  vocation  and  faith  are  of  little  value,  unless  accompanied 
by  perseverance,  which  is  not  the  lot  of  all.  But  Christ  has 
delivered  us  from  this  anxiety,  for  these  promises  undoubtedly 
belong  to  the  future :  "  All  that  the  Father  giveth  me,  shall 
come  to  me  ;  and  him  that  cometh  to  me,  I  will  in  no  wise 
cast  out.  And  this  is  the  Father's  will  which  hath  sent  me, 
that  of  all  which  he  hath  given  me,  I  should  lose  nothing, 
but  should  raise  it  up  again  at  the  last  day."  (r)  Again  :  "  My 
sheep  hear  my  voice,  and  I  know  them,  and  they  follow  me. 
And  I  give  unto  them  eternal  life,  and  they  shall  never  perish, 
neither  shall  any  pluck  them  out  of  my  hand.  My  Father, 
which  gave  them  me,  is  greater  than  all  ;  and  none  is  able 
to  pluck  them  out  of  my  Father's  hand."  (s)  Besides,  when 
he  declares,  "  Every  plant  which  my  heavenly  Father  hath 
not  planted,  shall  be  rooted  up,"(^)  he  fully  implies  on  the 
contrary,  that  those  who  are  rooted  in  God,  can  never  by  any 
violence  be  deprived  of  salvation.  With  this  corresponds 
that  passage  of  John,  "  If  they  had  been  of  us,  they  would  no 
doubt  have  continued  with  us."  (u)  Hence  also  that  magnifi- 
cent exultation  of  Paul,  in  defiance  of  life  and  death,  of  things 
present  and  future  ;  which  must  necessarily  have  been  founded 
in  the  gift  of  perseverance,  (x)  Nor  can  it  be  doubted  that  he 
applies  this  sentiment  to  all  the  elect.  The  same  apostle  in 
another  place  says,  "  He  which  hath  begun  a  good  work  in 
you,  will  perform  it  until  the  day  of  Jesus  Christ.  "  (y)     This 

(m)  John  vi.  37,  39 ;  xvii.  6, 12.  (q)  Rom.  xi.  17—23.  (u)  1  John  ii.  19. 

(h)    Rom.  viii.  30.  (r)  John  vi.  37,  39.  (z)   Rom.  viii.  35—33. 

(o)    Matt.  xxii.  14.  (s)  John  x.  27—29.  (y)  Phil.  i.  6. 

Ip)  1  Cor.  X.  12.  (0  Matt.  xv.  13. 

VOL.  II.  24 

186  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

also  supported  David  when  his  faith  was  faihng  :  "  Thou  wilt 
not  forsake  the  work  of  thine  own  hands."  (z)  Nor  is  it  to  be 
doubted,  that  when  Christ  intercedes  for  all  the  elect,  he  prays 
for  them  the  same  as  for  Peter,  that  their  faith  may  never  fail. 
Hence  we  conclude,  that  they  are  beyond  all  danger  of  falling 
away,  because  the  intercessions  of  the  Son  of  God  for  their 
perseverance  in  piety  have  not  been  rejected.  What  did  Christ 
intend  we  should  learn  from  this,  but  confidence  in  our  per- 
petual security,  since  we  have  once  been  introduced  into  the 
number  of  his  people  ? 

VII.  But  it  daily  happens,  that  they  who  appeai-ed  to  belong 
to  Christ,  fall  away  from  him  again,  and  sink  into  ruin.  Even 
in  that  very  place,  where  he  asserts  that  none  perish  of  those 
who  were  given  to  him  by  the  Father,  he  excepts  the  son  of 
perdition.  This  is  true ;  but  it  is  equally  certain,  that  such 
persons  never  adhered  to  Christ  with  that  confidence  of  heart 
which,  we  say,  gives  us  an  assurance  of  our  election.  "  They 
went  out  from  us,"  says  John,  "  but  they  were  not  of  us ;  for 
if  they  had  been  of  us,  they  would  no  doubt  have  continued 
with  us."  (a)  I  dispute  not  their  having  similar  signs  of  calling 
with  the  elect ;  but  I  am  far  from  admitting  them  to  possess 
that  certain  assurance  of  election  which  I  enjoin  believers  to 
seek  from  the  word  of  the  gospel.  Wherefore,  let  not  such 
examples  move  us  from  a  tranquil  reliance  on  our  Lord's 
promise,  where  he  declares,  that  all  who  receive  him  by  faith 
were  given  him  by  the  Father,  and  that  since  he  is  their 
Guardian  and  Shepherd,  not  one  of  them  shall  perish.  Of 
Judas  we  shall  speak  afterwards.  Paul  is  dissuading  Christians, 
not  from  all  security,  but  from  supine,  unguarded,  carnal  secu- 
rity, which  is  attended  with  pride,  arrogance,  and  contempt  of 
others,  extinguishes  humility  and  reverence  of  God,  and  pro- 
duces forgetfulness  of  favours  received.  For  he  is  addressing 
Gentiles,  teaching  them  that  the  Jews  should  not  be  proudly 
and  inhumanly  insulted  because  they  had  been  rejected,  and 
the  Gentiles  substituted  in  their  place.  He  also  inculcates  fear  ; 
not  such  a  fear  as  produces  terror  and  uncertainty,  but  such  as 
teaches  humble  admiration  of  the  grace  of  God,  without  any 
diminution  of  confidence  in  it ;  as  has  been  elsewhere  observed. 
Besides,  he  is  not  addressing  individuals,  but  distinct  parties 
generally.  For  as  the  Church  was  divided  into  two  parties, 
and  emulation  gave  birth  to  dissension,  Paul  admonishes  the 
Gentiles,  that  their  substitution  in  the  place  of  the  holy  and 
peculiar  people  ought  to  be  a  motive  to  fear  and  modesty. 
There  were,  however,  many  clamorous  people  among  them, 
whose  empty  boasting  it  was  necessary  to  restrain.     But  we 

(2)  Psalm  cxxxviii.  8.  (a)  1  John  ii.  19. 


have  already  seen  that  our  hope  extends  into  futurity,  even 
beyond  the  grave,  and  that  nothing  is  more  contrary  to  its 
nature  than  doubts  respecting  our  final  destiny. 

VIII.  The  declaration  of  Christ,  that  "many  are  called, 
and  few  chosen,"  is  very  improperly  understood.  For  there 
will  be  no  ambiguity  in  it,  if  we  remember  what  must  'lo  clear 
from  the  foregoing  observations,  that  there  are  two  kmds  of 
calling.  For  there  is  a  universal  call,  by  which  God,  in  the 
external  preaching  of  the  word,  invites  all,  indiscriminately,  to 
come  to  him,  even  those  to  whom  he  intends  it  as  a  savom  of 
death,  and  an  occasion  of  heavier  condemnation.  There  is  also 
a  special  call,  with  which  he,  for  the  most  part,  favours  only 
believers,  when,  by  the  inward  illumination  of  his  Spirit,  he 
causes  the  word  preached  to  sink  into  their  hearts.  Yet  some- 
times he  also  communicates  it  to  those  whom  he  only  enlightens 
for  a  season,  and  afterwards  forsakes  on  accoimt  of  their  ingra- 
titude, and  strikes  with  greater  blindness.  Now,  the  Lord,  see- 
ing the  gospel  published  far  and  wide,  held  in  contempt  by 
the  generality  of  men,  and  justly  appreciated  by  few,  gives  us 
a  description  of  God,  under  the  character  of  a  king,  who  prepares 
a  solemn  feast,  and  sends  out  his  messengers  in  every  direction, 
to  invite  a  great  company,  but  can  only  prevail  on  very  few, 
every  one  alleging  impediments  to  excuse  himself;  so  that  at 
length  he  is  constrained  by  their  refusal  to  bring  in  all  who  can 
be  found  in  the  streets.  Thus  far,  every  one  sees,  the  parable 
is  to  be  understood  of  the  external  call.  He  proceeds  to  inform 
us,  that  God  acts  like  a  good  master  of  a  feast,  walking  round 
the  tables,  courteously  receiving  his  guests  ;  but  that  if  he  finds 
any  one  not  adorned  with  a  nuptial  garment,  he  suffers  not  the 
meanness  of  such  a  person  to  disgrace  the  festivity  of  the 
banquet.  I  confess,  this  part  is  to  be  understood  of  those  who 
enter  into  the  Church  by  a  profession  of  faith,  but  are  not 
invested  with  the  sanctification  of  Christ.  Such  blemishes,  and, 
as  it  were,  cankers  of  his  Church,  God  will  not  always  suffer,  but 
will  cast  them  out  of  it,  as  their  turpitude  deserves.  Few, 
therefore,  are  chosen  out  of  a  multitude  that  are  called,  but 
not  with  that  calling  by  which  we  say  believers  ought  to  judge 
of  their  election.  For  the  former  is  common  also  to  the  wicked ; 
but  the  latter  is  attended  with  the  Spirit  of  regeneration,  the 
earnest  and  seal  of  the  future  inheritance,  which  seals  our  hearts 
to  the  day  of  the  Lord,  (b)  In  short,  though  hypocrites  boast 
of  piety  as  if  they  were  true  worshippers  of  God,  Christ 
declares  that  he  will  finally  cast  them  out  of  the  place  which 
they  unjustly  occupy.  Thus  the  Psalmist  says,  "  Who  shall 
abide  in  thy  tabernacle  ?  He  that  worketh  righteousness,  and 
speaketh   the  truth  in  his   heart."  (c)     Again:   "This  is  the 

(ft)  Ephes.  i.  13, 14.  (c)  Psalm  xv.  1. 

188  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

generation  of  them  that  seek  him,  that  seek  thy  face,  O 
Jacob."  ((/)  And  thus  the  Spirit  exhorts  believers  to  patience, 
that  they  may  not  be  disturbed  by  Ishmaehtes  being  united 
with  them  in  the  Church,  since  the  mask  will  at  length  be  torn 
off,  and  they  will  be  cast  out  with  disgrace. 

IX.  The  same  reasoning  applies  to  the  exception  lately  cited, 
where  Christ  says,  that  "  none  of  them  is  lost,  but  the  son  of 
perdition."  (e)  Here  is,  indeed,  some  inaccuracy  of  expression, 
but  the  meaning  is  clear.  For  he  was  never  reckoned  among 
the  sheep  of  Christ,  as  being  really  such,  but  only  as  he  occu- 
pied the  place  of  one.  When  the  Lord  declares  he  was  chosen 
by  himself  with  the  other  apostles,  it  only  refers  to  the  minis- 
terial office.  "  Have  not  I  chosen  you  twelve,"  says  he,  "  and 
one  of  you  is  a  devil  ?"(/)  That  is,  he  had  chosen  him  to 
the  office  of  an  apostle.  But  when  he  speaks  of  election  to 
salvation,  he  excludes  him  from  the  number  of  the  elect :  "  I 
speak  not  of  you  all ;  I  know  whom  I  have  chosen."  (g)  If 
any  one  confound  the  term  election  in  these  passages,  he  will 
miserably  embarrass  himself;  if  he  make  a  proper  distinction, 
nothing  is  plainer.  It  is  therefore  a  very  erroneous  and  per- 
nicious assertion  of  Gregory,  that  we  are  only  conscious  of  our 
calling,  but  uncertain  of  our  election ;  from  which  he  exhorts 
all  to  fear  and  trembling,  using  also  this  argument,  that  though 
we  know  what  we  are  to-day,  yet  we  know  not  what  we  may 
be  in  future.  But  the  context  plainly  shows  the  cause  of  his 
error  on  this  point.  For  as  he  suspended  election  on  the  merit 
of  works,  this  furnished  abundant  reason  for  discouragement  to 
the  minds  of  men  :  he  could  never  establish  them,  for  want  of 
leading  them  from  themselves  to  a  confidence  in  the  Divine 
goodness.  Hence  believers  have  some  perception  of  what  we 
stated  at  the  beginning,  that  predestination,  rightly  considered, 
neither  destroys  nor  weakens  faith,  but  rather  furnishes  its  best 
confirmation.  Yet  I  will  not  deny,  that  the  Spirit  sometimes 
accommodates  his  language  to  the  limited  extent  of  our  capacity, 
as  when  he  says,  "  They  shall  not  be  in  the  assembly  of  my 
people,  neither  shall  they  be  written  in  the  writing  of  the  house 
of  Israel."  (A)  As  though  God  were  beginning  to  write  in  the 
book  of  life  those  whom  he  numbers  among  his  people,  whereas 
we  know  from  the  testimony  of  Christ,  that  the  names  of  God's 
children  have  been  written  in  the  book  of  life  from  the  begin- 
ning, (i)  But  these  expressions  only  signify  the  rejection  of 
those  who  seemed  to  be  the  chief  among  the  elect ;  as  the 
Psalmist  says,  "  Let  them  be  blotted  out  of  the  book  of  the 
living,  and  not  be  written  with  the  righteous."  (k) 

(d)  Psalm  xxiv.  6.         (e)  John  xvii.  12.         (/)  John  vi.  70.         (g)  John  xiii.  18. 
(h)  Ezek.  xiii.  9.  (i)  Luke  x.  20.  {k)  Psalm  Ixix.  28. 


X.  Now,  the  elect  are  not  gathered  into  the  fold  of  Christ  by- 
calling,  immediately  from  their  birth,  nor  all  at  the  same  time, 
but  according  as  God  is  pleased  to  dispense  his  grace  to  them. 
Before  they  are  gathered  to  that  chief  Shepherd,  they  go  a- 
stray,  scattered  in  the  common  wilderness,  and  dilfering  in  no 
respect  from  others,  except  in  being  protected  by  the  special 
mercy  of  God  from  rushing  down  the  precipice  of  eternal  death. 
If  you  observe  them,  therefore,  you  will  see  the  posterity  of 
Adam  partaking  of  the  common  corruption  of  the  whole  spe- 
cies. That  they  go  not  to  the  most  desperate  extremes  of 
impiety,  is  not  owing  to  any  innate  goodness  of  theirs,  but  be- 
cause the  eye  of  God  watches  over  them,  and  his  hand  is  ex- 
tended for  their  preservation.  For  those  who  dream  of  I  know 
not  what  seed  of  election  sown  in  their  hearts  from  their  very 
birth,  always  inclining  them  to  piety  and  the  fear  of  God,  are 
unsupported  by  the  authority  of  Scripture,  and  refuted  by  ex- 
perience itself.  They  produce,  indeed,  a  few  examples  to 
prove  that  certain  elect  persons  were  not  entire  strangers  to 
religion,  even  before  they  were  truly  enlightened  ;  that  Paul 
lived  blameless  in  his  Pharisaism;  (/)  that  Cornelius,  with  his 
alms  and  prayers,  was  accepted  of  God,  (w^)  and  if  there  are  any 
other  similar  ones.  What  they  say  of  Paul,  we  admit ;  but  re- 
specting Cornelius,  we  maintain  that  they  are  deceived ;  for  it 
is  evident,  he  was  then  enlightened  and  regenerated,  and 
wanted  nothing  but  a  clear  revelation  of  the  gospel.  But 
what  will  they  extort  from  these  very  few  examples  ?  that  the 
elect  have  always  been  endued  with  the  spirit  of  piety  ?  This 
is  just  as  if  any  one,  having  proved  the  integrity  of  Aristides, 
Socrates,  Xenocrates,  Scipio,  Curius,  Camillus,  and  other  hea- 
thens, should  conclude  from  this,  that  all  who  were  left  in  the 
darkness  of  idolatry,  were  followers  of  holiness  and  virtue. 
But  this  is  contradicted  in  many  passages  of  Scripture.  Paul's 
description  of  the  state  of  the  Ephesians  prior  to  regeneration, 
exhibits  not  a  grain  of  this  seed.  "  Ye  were  dead,"  he  says, 
"  in  trespasses  and  sins,  wherein  in  time  past  ye  walked  accord- 
ing to  the  course  of  this  world,  according  to  the  prince  of  the 
power  of  the  air,  the  spirit  that  now  worketh  in  the  children 
of  disobedience  ;  among  whom  also  we  all  had  our  conversa- 
tion in  times  past,  in  the  lusts  of  our  flesh,  fulfilling  the  de- 
sires of  the  flesh  and  of  the  mind,  and  were  by  nature  the 
children  of  wrath,  even  as  others."  («)  Again:  "Remember 
that  at  that  time  ye  were  without  hope,  and  without  God  in 
the  world."  (o)  Again :  "  Ye  were  sometimes  darkness,  but 
now  are  ye  light  in  the  Lord ;  walk  as  children  of  light."  (p) 

(Z)  Phil.  iii.  5,  6.  (m)  Acts  x.  2.  (n)  Ephes.  ii.  1—3. 

(p)  Ephes.  ii.  11,  12.  (j))  Ephes.  v.  8 ;  iv.  18. 

190  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

Bnt  perhaps  they  will  plead,  that  these  passages  refer  to  that 
ignorance  of  the  true  God,  in  which  they  acknowledge  the 
elect  to  be  involved  previously  to  their  calling.  Though  this 
would  be  an  impudent  cavil,  since  the  apostle's  inferences  from 
them  are  such  as  these :  "  Put  away  lying ;  and  let  him  that 
stole,  steal  no  more."  (q)  But  what  will  they  reply  to  other 
passages  ?  such  as  that  where,  after  declaring  to  the  Corinthi- 
ans, that  "  Neither  fornicators,  nor  idolaters,  nor  adulterers, 
nor  effeminate,  nor  abusers  of  themselves  with  mankind,  nor 
thieves,  nor  covetous,  nor  drunkards,  nor  revilers,  nor  extor- 
tioners, shall  inherit  the  kingdom  of  God  ; "  he  immediately 
adds,  "  And  such  were  some  of  you ;  but  ye  are  washed,  but 
ye  are  sanctified,  but  ye  are  justified  in  the  name  of  the  Lord 
Jesus,  and  by  the  Spirit  of  our  God."  (r)  And  another  pas- 
sage, addressed  to  the  Romans:  "As  ye  have  yielded  your 
members  servants  to  uncleanness,  and  to  iniquity  unto  ini- 
quity ;  even  so  now  yield  your  members  servants  to  right- 
eousness. What  fruit  had  ye  then  in  those  things  whereof  ye 
are  now  ashamed  ?  "  (s) 

XI.  What  kind  of  seed  of  election  was  springing  up  in 
them,  who  were  all  their  lives  contaminated  with  various 
pollutions,  and  with  desperate  wickedness  wallowed  in  the 
most  nefarious  and  execrable  of  all  crimes?  If  he  had  intend- 
ed to  speak  according  to  these  teachers,  he  ought  to  have  shown 
how  much  they  were  obhged  to  the  goodness  of  God,  which 
had  preserved  them  from  falling  into  such  great  pollutions. 
So  likewise  the  persons  whom  Peter  addressed,  he  ought  to 
have  exhorted  to  gratitude  on  account  of  the  perpetual  seed 
of  election.  But,  on  the  contrary,  he  admonishes  them,  "  that 
the  time  past  may  suffice  to  have  wrought  the  will  of  the 
Gentiles."  (t)  What  if  we  come  to  particular  examples  ? 
What  principle  of  righteousness  was  there  in  Rahab  the 
harlot  before  faith  ?  (u)  in  Manasseh,  when  Jerusalem  was 
dyed,  and  almost  drowned,  with  the  blood  of  the  prophets  ?  (x) 
in  the  thief,  who  repented  in  his  dying  moments  ?  (y)  Away, 
then,  with  these  arguments,  which  men  of  presumptuous  curi- 
osity raise  to  themselves  without  regarding  the  Scripture.  Let 
tis  rather  abide  by  the  declaration  of  the  Scripture,  that  "  all 
we  like  sheep  have  gone  astray ;  we  have  turned  every  one  to 
his  own  way,"  (z)  that  is,  destruction.  Those  whom  the  Lord 
lias  determined  to  rescue  from  this  gulf  of  perdition,  he  defers 
till  his  appointed  season  ;  before  which  he  only  preserves  them 
from  falling  into  unpardonable  blasphemy. 

XII.  As  the  Lord,  by  his  effectual  calling  of  the  elect,  com- 

(q)  Ephes.  iv.  25,  28.  (t)  1  Peter  iv.  3.  (y)  Luke  xxiii.  40 

(r)  1  Cor.  vi.  9—11.  (m)  Josh.  ii.  1,  &c.  —42. 

[s)  Rom.  vi.  19,  21.  {x)  2  Kings  xxi.  16.  (:)  Isaiah  liii.  6. 


pletes  the  salvation  to  which  he  predestinated  them  in  his 
eternal  counsel,  so  he  has  his  judgments  against  the  reprobate, 
by  which  he  executes  his  counsel  respecting  them.  Those, 
therefore,  whom  he  has  created  to  a  life  of  shame  and  a  death  of 
destruction,  that  they  might  be  instruments  of  his  wrath,  and 
examples  of  his  severity,  he  causes  to  reach  their  appointed  end, 
sometimes  depriving  them  of  the  opportunity  of  hearing  the 
word,  sometimes,  by  the  preaching  of  it,  increasing  their  blind- 
ness and  stupidity.  Of  the  former  there  are  innumerable  exam- 
ples :  let  us  only  select  one  that  is  more  evident  and  remarkable 
than  the  rest.  Before  the  advent  of  Christ,  there  passed  about 
four  thousand  years,  in  which  the  liord  concealed  the  light  of 
the  doctrine  of  salvation  from  all  the  Gentiles.  If  it  be  replied, 
that  he  withheld  from  them  the  participation  of  so  great  a 
blessing  because  he  esteemed  them  unworthy,  their  posterity 
will  be  found  equally  unworthy  of  it.  The  truth  of  this,  to 
say  nothing  of  experience,  is  sufficiently  attested  by  Malachi, 
who  follows  his  reproofs  of  unbelief  and  gross  blasphemies  by 
an  immediate  prediction  of  the  coming  of  the  Messiah.  Why, 
then,  is  he  given  to  the  posterity  rather  than  to  their  ancestors  ? 
He  will  torment  himself  in  vain,  who  seeks  for  any  cause  of 
this  beyond  the  secret  and  inscrutable  counsel  of  God.  Nor 
need  we  be  afraid  lest  any  disciple  of  Porphyry  should  be  im- 
boldened  to  calumniate  the  justice  of  God  by  our  silence  in  its 
defence.  For  while  we  assert  that  all  deserve  to  perish,  and 
it  is  of  God's  free  goodness  that  any  are  saved,  enough  is  said 
for  the  illustration  of  his  glory,  so  that  every  subterfuge  of  ours 
is  altogether  unnecessary.  The  supreme  Lord,  therefore,  by 
depriving  of  the  communication  of  his  light,  and  leaving  in 
darkness,  those  whom  he  has  reprobated,  makes  way  for  the 
accomplishment  of  his  predestination.  Of  the  second  class,  the 
Scriptures  contain  many  examples,  and  others  present  them- 
selves every  day.  The  same  sermon  is  addressed  to  a  hundred 
persons  ;  twenty  receive  it  with  the  obedience  of  faith ;  the 
others  despise,  or  ridicule,  or  reject,  or  condemn  it.  If  it  be 
replied,  that  the  difference  proceeds  from  their  wickedness  and 
perverseness,  this  will  afford  no  satisfaction  ;  because  the  minds 
of  others  would  have  been  influenced  by  the  same  wickedness, 
but  for  the  correction  of  Divine  goodness.  And  thus  we  shall 
always  be  perplexed,  unless  we  recur  to  Paul's  question  —  "  Who 
maketh  thee  to  differ?  "(a)  In  whiph  he  signifies,  that  the 
excellence  of  some  men  beyond  others,  is  not  from  their  own 
virtue,  but  solely  from  Divine  grace. 

XIII.    Why,  then,  in  bestowing  grace  upon  some,  does  he 
pass  over  others  ?     Luke  assigns  a  reason  for  the  former,  that 

(a)  1  Cor.  iv.  7. 

192  INSTITUTES    OP    THE  [bOOK    III. 

they  "were  ordained  to  eternal  life."  What  conchision,  then, 
shall  we  draw  respecting  the  latter,  but  that  they  are  vessels 
of  wrath  to  dishonour  ?  Wherefore  let  us  not  hesitate  to  say 
with  Augustine,  "  God  could  convert  to  good  the  will  of  the 
wicked,  because  he  is  omnipotent.  It  is  evident  that  he  could. 
Why,  then,  does  he  not  ?  Because  he  would  not.  Why  he 
would  not,  remains  with  himself"  For  we  ought  not  to  aim 
at  more  wisdom  than  becomes  us.  That  will  be  mnch  better 
than  adopting  the  evasion  of  Chrysostom,  "  that  he  draws  those 
who  are  willing,  and  who  stretch  out  their  hands  for  his  aid  ;  " 
that  the  difference  may  not  appear  to  consist  in  the  decree  of 
God,  but  wholly  in  the  will  of  man.  But  an  approach  to  him 
is  so  far  from  being  a  mere  effort  of  man,  that  even  pious  per- 
sons, and  such  as  fear  God,  still  stand  in  need  of  the  pecu- 
liar impulse  of  the  Spirit.  Lydia,  the  seller  of  purple,  feared 
God,  and  yet  it  was  necessary  that  her  heart  should  be  opened, 
to  attend  to,  and  profit  by,  the  doctrine  of  Paul.  This  declara- 
tion is  not  made  respecting  a  single  female,  but  in  order  to 
teach  us  that  every  one's  advancement  in  piety  is  the  secret 
work  of  the  Spirit.  It  is  a  fact  not  to  be  doubted,  that  God 
sends  his  word  to  many  whose  blindness  he  determines  shall 
be  increased.  For  with  what  design  does  he  direct  so  many 
commands  to  be  delivered  to  Pharaoh  ?  Was  it  from  an  ex- 
pectation that  his  heart  would  be  softened  by  repeated  and 
ft-equent  messages  ?  Before  he  began,  he  knew  and  foretold 
the  result.  He  commanded  Moses  to  go  and  declare  his  will 
to  Pharaoh,  adding  at  the  same  time,  "  But  I  will  harden  his 
heart,  that  he  shall  not  let  the  people  go."  (6)  So,  when  he 
calls  forth  Ezekiel,  he  apprizes  him  that  he  is  sending  him  to 
a  rebellious  and  obstinate  people,  that  he  may  not  be  alarmed  if 
they  refuse  to  hear  him.  (c)  So  Jeremiah  foretells  that  his  word 
will  be  like  fire,  to  scatter  and  destroy  the  people  like  stubble,  (d) 
But  the  prophecy  of  Isaiah  furnishes  a  still  stronger  confirma- 
tion ;  for  this  is  his  mission  from  the  Lord  :  "  Go  and  tell  this 
people,  Hear  ye,  indeed,  but  understand  not,  and  see  ye,  indeed, 
but  perceive  not.  Make  the  heart  of  this  people  fat,  and  make 
their  ears  heavy,  and  shut  their  eyes ;  lest  they  see  with  their 
eyes,  and  hear  with  their  ears,  and  understand  with  their  heart, 
and  convert,  and  be  healed."  (e)  Observe,  he  directs  his  voice 
to  them,  but  it  is  that  they  may  become  more  deaf ;  he  kin- 
dles a  light,  but  it  is  that  they  may  be  made  more  blind  ;  he 
publishes  his  doctrine,  but  it  is  that  they  may  be  more  besotted  : 
he  applies  a  remedy,  but  it  is  that  they  may  not  be  healed. 
John,  citing  this  prophecy,  declares  that  the  Jews  could  not 

(6)  Exod.  iv.  21.  (£?)  Jer.v.  14. 

(c)  Ezek.  ii.  3  ;  xii.  2.  (e)  Isaiah  vi.  9, 10. 


believe,  because  this  curse  of  God  was  upon  them.  (/)  Nor 
can  it  be  disputed,  that  to  such  persons  as  God  determines  not 
to  enhghten,  he  delivers  his  doctrine  involved  in  enigmatical 
obscurity,  that  its  only  effect  may  be  to  increase  their  stupidity. 
For  Christ  testilies  that  he  confined  to  his  apostles  the  expla- 
nations of  the  parables  in  which  he  had  addressed  the  multi- 
tude ;  "  because  to  you  it  is  given  to  know  the  mysteries  of  the 
kingdom  of  heaven,  but  to  them  it  is  not  given."  (»•)  What 
does  the  Lord  mean,  you  will  say,  by  teaching  those  by  whom 
he  takes  care  not  to  be  understood  ?  Consider  whence  the 
fault  arises,  and  you  will  cease  the  inquiry ;  for  whatever 
obscurity  there  is  in  the  word,  yet  there  is  always  light  enough 
to  convince  the  consciences  of  the  wicked. 

XIV.  It  remains  now  to  be  seen  why  the  Lord  does  that 
\vhich  it  is  evident  he  does.  If  it  be  replied,  that  this  is  done 
because  men  have  deserved  it  by  their  impiety,  wickedness,  and 
ingratitude,  it  will  be  a  just  and  true  observation  ;  but  as  we 
have  not  yet  discovered  the  reason  of  this  diversity,  why  some 
persist  in  obduracy  while  others  are  inclined  to  obedience,  the 
discussion  of  it  will  necessarily  lead  us  to  the  same  remark  that 
Paul  has  quoted  from  Moses  concerning  Pharaoh:  "  Even  for 
this  same  purpose  have  I  raised  thee  up,  that  I  might  show  my 
power  in  thee,  and  that  my  name  might  be  declared  throughout 
all  the  earth."'  (h)  That  the  reprobate  obey  not  the  word  of 
God,  when  made  known  to  them,  is  justly  imputed  to  the 
wickedness  and  depravity  of  their  hearts,  provided  it  be  at  the 
same  time  stated,  that  they  are  abandoned  to  this  depravity, 
because  they  have  been  raised  up,  by  a  just  but  inscrutable 
judgment  of  God,  to  display  his  glory  in  their  condemnation. 
So,  when  it  is  related  of  the  sons  of  Eli,  that  they  listened  not 
to  his  salutary  admonitions,  "  because  the  Lord  would  slay 
them,"  (?)  it  is  not  denied  that  their  obstinacy  proceeded 
from  their  own  wickedness,  but  it  is  plainly  implied  that 
though  the  Lord  was  able  to  soften  their  hearts,  yet  they  were 
left  in  their  obstinacy,  because  his  immutable  decree  had  pre- 
destinated them  to  destruction.  To  the  same  purpose  is  that 
passage  of  John,  "  Though  he  had  done  so  many  miracles 
before  them,  yet  they  believed  not  on  him  ;  that  the  saying  of 
Esaias  the  prophet  might  be  fulfilled,  which  he  spake,  '  Lord, 
who  hath  believed  our  report  ?  '  "  (k)  For  though  he  does  not 
acquit  the  obstinate  from  the  charge  of  guilt,  yet  he  satisfies 
himself  with  this  reason,  that  the  grace  of  God  has  no  charms 
for  men  till  the  Holy  Spirit  gives  them  a  taste  for  it.  And 
Christ  cites  the  prophecy  of  Isaiah,  "  They  shall  be  all  taught 

(/)  John  xii.  39,  40.  (g)  Matt.  xiii.  11.  (h)  Rom.  ix.  17. 

0)  1  Sam.  ii.  25.  (A)  John  xii.  37,  38. 

VOL.  II.  25 

194  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    II*. 

of  God,"  (I)  with  no  other  design  than  to  show,  that  the  Jews 
are  reprobate  and  strangers  to  the  Church,  because  they  are 
destitute  of  dociUty  ;  and  he  adduces  no  other  reason  for  it 
than  that  the  promise  of  God  does  not  belong  to  them ;  which 
is  confirmed  by  that  passage  of  Paul,  where  "  Christ  crucified, 
unto  the  Jews  a  stumbling-block,  and  unto  the  Greeks  foolish- 
ness," is  said  to  be  "unto  them  which  are  called,  the  power 
of  God,  and  the  wisdom  of  God."  (m)  For,  after  remarking 
what  generally  happens  whenever  the  gospel  is  preached,  that 
it  exasperates  some,  and  is  despised  by  others,  he  reiiresents  it 
as  duly  appreciated  only  by  "  those  who  are  called."  A  little 
before  he  had  mentioned  "  them  that  believe  ; "  not  that  he 
had  an  intention  to  deny  its  proper  place  to  the  grace  of  God, 
which  precedes  faith,  but  he  seems  to  add  this  second  descrip- 
tion by  way  of  correction,  in  order  that  those  who  had  received 
the  gospel  might  ascribe  the  praise  of  their  faith  to  the  Divine 
call.  And  so,  likewise,  in  a  subsequent  sentence,  he  represents 
them  as  the  objects  of  Divine  election.  When  the  impious 
hear  these  things,  they  loudly  complain  that  God,  by  a  wanton 
exercise  of  power,  abuses  his  wretched  creatures  for  the  sport 
of  his  cruelty.  But  we,  who  know  that  all  men  are  liable  to 
so  many  charges  at  the  Divine  tribunal,  that  of  a  thousand 
questions  they  would  be  unable  to  give  a  satisfactory  answer 
to  one,  confess  that  the  reprobate  suffer  nothing  but  what  is 
consistent  with  the  most  righteous  judgment  of  God.  Though 
we  cannot  comprehend  the  reason  of  this,  let  us  be  content 
with  some  degree  of  ignorance  where  the  wisdom  of  God  soars 
into  its  own  sublimity. 

XV.  But  as  objections  are  frequently  raised  from  some  pas- 
sages of  Scripture,  in  which  God  seems  to  deny  that  the  de- 
struction of  the  wicked  is  caused  by  his  decree,  but  that,  in 
opposition  to  his  remonstrances,  they  voluntarily  bring  ruin 
upon  themselves,  — let  us  show  by  a  brief  explication  that  they 
are  not  at  all  inconsistent  with  the  foregoing  doctrine.  A  pas- 
sage is  produced  from  Ezekiel,  where  God  says,  "  I  have  no 
pleasure  in  the  death  of  the  wicked,  but  that  the  wicked  turn- 
from  his  way  and  live."  (n)  If  this  is  to  be  extended  to  all 
mankind,  why  does  he  not  urge  many  to  repentance,  whose 
minds  are  more  flexible  to  obedience  than  those  of  others,  who 
grow  more  and  more  callous  to  his  daily  invitations  ?  Among 
the  inhabitants  of  Nineveh  and  Sodom,  Christ  himself  declares 
that  his  evangelical  preaching  and  miracles  would  have  brought 
forth  more  fruit  than  in  Judea.  How  is  it,  then,  if  God  will 
have  all  men  to  be  saved,  that  he  opens  not  the  gate  of  repent- 
ance to  those  miserable  men  who  would  be  more  ready  to  re- 

(Z)  John  vi.  45.  (m)  1  Cor.  i.  23,  24.  (n)  Ezek.  xxxiii.  11. 

CHAP.    XXIV.]  »     CHRISTIAN    RELIGION.  195 

ceive  the  favour  ?  Hence  we  perceive  it  to  be  a  violent  per- 
version of  the  passage,  if  the  will  of  God,  mentioned  by  the 
prophet,  be  set  in  opposition  to  his  eternal  counsel,  by  which 
he  has  distinguished  the  elect  from  the  reprobate.  Now,  if  we 
inquire  the  genuine  sense  of  the  prophet,  his  only  meaning  is 
to  inspire  the  penitent  with  hopes  of  pardon.  And  this  is  the 
sum,  that  it  is  beyond  a  doubt  that  God  is  ready  to  pardon  sin- 
ners immediately  on  their  conversion.  Therefore  he  wills  not 
their  death,  inasmuch  as  he  wills  their  repentance.  But  expe- 
rience teaches,  that  he  does  not  will  the  repentance  of  those 
whom  he  externally  calls,  in  such  a  manner  as  to  affect  all  their 
hearts.  Nor  should  he  on  this  account  be  charged  with  acting 
deceitfully  ;  for,  though  his  external  call  only  renders  those 
wha  hear  without  obeying  it  inexcusable,  yet  it  is  justly  es- 
teemed the  testimony  of  God's  grace,  by  which  he  reconciles 
men  to  himself.  Let  us  observe,  therefore,  the  design  of  the 
prophet  in  saying  that  God  has  no  pleasure  in  the  death  of  a 
sinner ;  it  is  to  assure  the  pious  of  God's  readiness  to  pardon 
them  immediately  on  their  repentance,  and  to  show  the  impious 
the  aggravation  of  their  sin  in  rejecting  such  great  compassion 
and  kindness  of  God.  Repentance,  therefore,  will  always  be 
met  by  Divine  mercy ;  but  on  whom  repentance  is  bestowed, 
we  are  clearly  taught  by  Ezekiel  himself,  as  well  as  by  all  the 
prophets  and  apostles. 

XVI.  Another  passage  adduced  is  from  Paul,  where  he  states 
that  "God  will  have  all  men  to  be  saved ;  "  (o)  which,  though 
somewhat  different  from  the  passage  just  considered,  yet  is  very 
similar  to  it.  I  reply,  in  the  first  place,  that  it  is  evident  from 
the  context,  how  God  wills  the  salvation  of  all ;  for  Paul  con- 
nects these  two  things  together,  that  he  "  will  have  all  men  to 
be  saved,  and  to  come  unto  the  knowledge  of  the  truth."  If 
it  was  fixed  in  the  eternal  counsel  of  God,  that  they  should 
receive  the  doctrine  of  salvation,  what  is  the  meaning  of  that 
question  of  Moses,  "  What  nation  is  there  so  great,  who  hath  God 
so  nigh  unto  them  as  we  have  ? "  (p)  How  is  it  that  God  has 
deprived  many  nations  of  the  light  of  the  gospel,  which  others 
enjoyed?  How  is  it  that  the  pure  knowledge  of  the  doctrine 
of  piety  has  never  reached  some,  and  that  others  have  but  just 
heard  some  obscuio  rudiments  of  it  ?  Hence  it  will  be  easy  to 
discover  the  design  of  Paul.  He  had  enjoined  Timothy  to 
make  solemn  prayers  in  the  Church  for  kings  and  princes  ;  but 
as  it  might  seem  snmewhat  inconsistent  to  pray  to  God  for 
a  class  of  men  almost  past  hope,  —  for  they  were  not  only 
strangers  to  the  body  of  Christ,  but  striving  with  all  their  pow- 
er to  ruin  his  kingdom,  — he  subjoins,  that  "this  is  good  and 

(o)lTim.  ii.  4.  (p)  Deut.  iv.  7. 

196  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK.    IX  % 

acceptable  in  the  sight  of  God,  who  will  have  all  men  to  be 
saved  ;  "  which  only  imports,  that  God  has  not  closed  the  way 
of  salvation  against  any  order  of  men,  but  has  diffused  his 
mercy  in  such  a  manner  that  he  would  have  no  rank  to  be  des- 
titute of  it.  The  other  texts  adduced  are  not  declarative  of  the 
Lord's  determination  respecting  all  men  in  his  secret  counsel : 
they  only  proclaim  that  pardon  is  ready  for  all  sinners  who 
sincerely  seek  it-  (q)  For  if  they  obstinately  insist  on  its  being 
said  that  God  is  merciful  to  all,  I  will  oppose  to  them,  what  is 
elsewhere  asserted,  that  "  our  God  is  in  the  heavens ;  he  hath 
done  whatsoever  he  hath  pleased."  (r)  This  text,  then,  must 
be  explained  in  a  manner  consistent  with  another,  where  God 
says,  "  I  will  be  gracious  to  whom  1  will  be  gracious,  and  I  will 
show  mercy  on  whom  I  will  show  mercy."  (s)  He  who  makes 
a  selection  of  objects  for  the  exercise  of  his  mercy,  does  not 
impart  that  mercy  to  all.  But  as  it  clearly  appears  that  Paul  is 
there  speaking,  not  of  individuals,  but  orders  of  men,  I  shall 
forbear  any  further  argument.  It  must  be  remarked,  however, 
that  Paul  is  not  declaring  the  actual  conduct  of  God  at  all  times, 
in  all  places,  and  to  all  persons,  but  merely  representing  him  as 
at  liberty  to  make  kings  and  magistrates  at  length  partakers  of 
the  heavenly  doctrine,  notwithstanding  their  present  rage  against 
it  in  consequence  of  their  blindness.  There  is  more  apparent 
plausibility  in  their  objection,  from  the  declaration  of  Peter, 
that  "  the  Lord  is  not  willing  that  any  should  perish,  but  that 
all  should  come  to  repentance."  (t)  But  the  second  clause 
furnishes  an  immediate  solution  of  this  difficulty  ;  for  the  will- 
ingness that  they  should  come  to  repentance  must  be  understood 
in  consistence  with  the  general  tenor  of  Scripture.  Conversion 
is  certainly  in  the  power  of  God  ;  let  him  be  asked,  whether 
he  wills  the  conversion  of  all.  when  he  promises  a  few  indi- 
viduals to  give  them  "  a  heart  of  flesh,"  while  he  leaves  others 
with  "a  heart  of  stone."  (u)  If  he  were  not  ready  to  receive 
those  who  implore  his  mercy,  there  would  indeed  be  no  propri- 
ety in  this  address,  "  Turn  ye  unto  me,  and  I  will  turn  unto 
you  ;  "  (x)  but  I  maintain  that  no  mortal  ever  approaches  God 
without  being  divinely  drawn.  But  if  repentance  depended  on 
the  will  of  man,  Paul  would  not  have  said,  "If  God  peradven- 
lure  will  give  them  repentance."  (y)  And  if  God,  whose  voice 
exhorts  all  men  to  repentance,  did  not  draw  the  elect  to  it  by 
the  secret  operation  of  his  Spirit,  Jeremiah  would  not  have  said, 
"  Turn  thou  me,  and  I  shall  be  turned ;  for  thou  art  the  Lord 
my  God.     Surely  after  that  I  was  turned,  I  repented."  (z) 

(9)  Psalm  cxlv.  9.  (t)  2  Peter  iii.  9.  (ij)  2  Tim.  ii.  25. 

(r)  Psalm  cxv.  3.  (m)  Ezek.  xxxvi.  26.  (z)  Jer.  xxxi.  18,  19. 

(s)  Exod.  xxxiii.  19.  (r)  Zech.  i.  3. 


XVII.  If  this  be  correct,  it  will  be  said  there  can  be  but  little 
faith  ill  the  promises  of  the  gospel,  which,  in  declaring  the  will 
of  God,  assert  that  he  wills  what  is  repugnant  to  his  inviolable 
decree.  But  this  is  far  from  a  just  conclusion.  For  if  we  turn 
our  attention  to  the  elfect  of  the  promises  of  salvation,  we  shall 
find  that  their  universality  is  not  at  all  inconsistent  with  the 
predestination  of  the  reprobate.  We  know  the  promises  to  be 
effectual  to  us  only  when  we  receive  them  by  faith  ;  on  the 
contrary,  the  annihilation  of  faith  is  at  once  an  abolition  of  the 
promises.  If  this  is  their  nature,  we  may  perceive  that  there  is 
no  discordance  between  these  two  things  —  God's  having  ap- 
pointed from  eternity  on  whom  he  will  bestow  his  favour  and 
exercise  his  wrath,  and  his  proclaiming  salvation  indiscriminately 
to  all.  Indeed,  I  maintain  that  there  is  the  most  perfect  har- 
mony between  them.  For  his  sole  design  in  thus  promising,  is 
to  offer  his  mercy  to  all  who  desire  and  seek  it,  which  none  do 
but  those  whom  he  has  enlightened,  and  he  enlightens  all  whom 
he  has  predestinated  to  salvation.  These  persons  experience 
the  certain  and  unshaken  truth  of  the  promises ;  so  that  it  can- 
not be  pretended  that  there  is  the  least  contrariety  between 
God's  eternal  election  and  the  testimony  of  his  grace  offered  to 
believers.  But  why  does  he  mention  all  ?  It  is  in  order  that 
the  consciences  of  the  pious  may  enjoy  the  more  secure  satis- 
faction, seeing  that  there  is  no  difference  between  sinners, 
provided  they  have  faith;  and,  on  the  other  hand,  that  the 
impious  may  not  plead  the  want  of  an  asylum  to  flee  to  from 
the  bondage  of  sin,  while  they  ungratefully  reject  that  which  is 
offered  to  them.  When  the  mercy  of  God  is  offered  to  both  by 
the  gospel,  it  is  faith,  that  is,  the  illumination  of  God,  which 
distinguishes  between  the  pious  and  impious  ;  so  that  the  former 
experience  the  efficacy  of  the  gospel,  but  the  latter  derive  no 
benefit  from  it.  Now,  this  illnmination  is  regulated  by  God's 
eternal  election.  The  complaint  and  lamentation  of  Christ, 
"  O  Jerusalem,  Jerusalem,  how  often  would  I  have  gathered 
thy  children  together,  and  ye  would  not,"  (a)  however  they 
cite  it,  affords  them  no  support.  I  confess,  that  Christ  here 
speaks  not  merely  in  his  human  character,  but  that  he  is  up- 
braiding the  Jews  for  having  in  all  ages  rejected  his  grace.  But 
we  must  define  the  will  of  God  which  is  here  intended.  It  is 
well  known  how  sedulously  God  laboured  to  preserve  that 
people  to  himself,  and  with  what  extreme  obstinacy,  from  the 
first  to  the  last,  they  refused  to  be  gathered,  being  abandoned 
to  their  own  wandering  desires;  but  this  does  not  authorize 
the  conclusion,  that  the  counsel  of  God  was  frustrated  by  the 
wickedness  of  men.     They  object,  that  nothing  is  more  incon- 

(a)  Matt,  xxiii.  37. 

198  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

sistent  with  the  nature  of  God  than  to  have  two  wills.  This  I 
grant  them,  provided  it  be  rightly  explained.  But  why  do  they 
not  consider  the  numerous  passages,  where,  by  the  assumption 
of  human  affections,  God  condescends  beneath  his  own  majesty  ? 
He  says,  "  I  have  spread  out  my  hands  all  the  day  unto  a  re- 
bellious people  ;  "  (6)  early  and  late  endeavouring  to  bring  them 
to  himself.  If  they  are  determined  to  accommodate  all  this  to 
God,  and  disregard  the  figurative  mode  of  expression,  they  will 
give  rise  to  many  needless  contentions,  which  may  be  settled  by 
this  one  solution,  that  what  is  peculiar  to  man  is  transferred  to 
God.  The  solution,  however,  elsewhere  stated  by  us,  is  fully 
sufficient  — that  though  to  our  apprehension  the  will  of  God  is 
manifold  and  various,  yet  he  does  not  in  himself  will  things  at 
variance  with  each  other,  but  astonishes  our  faculties  Avith  his 
various  and  "  manifold  wisdom,"  according  to  the  expression  of 
Paul,  till  we  shall  be  enabled  to  understand,  that  he  mysteri- 
ously wills  what  now  seems  contrary  to  his  will.  They  im- 
pertinently object,  that  God  being  the  Father  of  all,  it  is  unjust 
for  him  to  disinherit  any  but  such  as  have  previously  deserved 
this  punishment  by  their  own  guilt.  As  if  the  goodness  of  God 
did  not  extend  even  to  dogs  and  swine.  But  if  the  question 
relates  to  the  human  race,  let  them  answer  why  God  allied 
himself  to  one  people  as  their  Father ;  why  he  gathered  even 
from  them  but  a  very  small  number,  as  the  flower  of  them. 
But  their  rage  for  slander  prevents  these  railers  from  consider- 
ing that  God  "  maketh  his  sun  to  rise  on  the  evil  and  on  the 
good,"  (c)  but  that  the  inheritance  is  reserved  for  the  few,  to 
whom  it  shall  one  day  be  said,  "  Come,  ye  blessed  of  my  Father, 
inherit  the  kingdom  prepared  for  you  from  the  foundation  of  the 
world."  {d)  They  further  object,  that  God  hates  nothing  he  has 
made  ;  which  though  I  grant  them,  the  doctrine  I  maintain  still 
remains  unshaken,  that  the  reprobate  are  hated  by  God,  and 
that  most  justly,  because,  being  destitute  of  his  Spirit,  they  can 
do  nothing  but  what  is  deserving  of  his  curse.  They  further  al- 
lege, that  there  is  no  diflerence  between  the  Jew  and  the  Gentile, 
and  therefore  that  the  grace  of  God  is  offered  indiscriminately  to 
all :  I  grant  it  ;  only  let  them  admit,  according  to  the  declaration 
of  Paul,  that  God  calls  whom  he  pleases,  both  of  the  Jews  and 
of  the  Gentiles,  (e)  so  that  he  is  under  no  obligation  to  any.  In 
this  way  also  we  answer  their  arguments  from  another  text, 
which  says,  that  "  God  hath  concluded  them  all  in  unbelief, 
that  he  might  have  mercy  upon  all ;  "  (/)  which  imports  that 
he  will  have  the  salvation  of  all  who  are  saved  ascribed  to  his 
mercy,  though  this  blessing  is  not  common  to  all.     Now,  while 

(6)  Isaiah  Ixv.  2.  (c)  Matt.  v.  48.  (</)  Matt.  xxv.  34. 

(e)  Rom.  ix.  24.  (/)  Rom.  xi.  32. 


many  arguments  are  advanced  on  both  sides,  let  our  conclusion 
be  to  stand  astonished  with  Paul  at  so  great  a  mystery,  and 
amidst  the  clamour  of  petulant  tongues  let  us  not  be  ashamed 
of  exclaiming  Avith  him,  "  O  man,  who  art  thou  that  repliest 
against  God  ?  "  For,  as  Augustine  justly  contends,  it  is  acting 
a  most  perverse  part,  to  set  up  the  measure  of  human  justice 
as  the  standard  by  which  to  measm-e  the  justice  of  God. 



Though  Christ,  the  Sun  of  Righteousness,  after  having 
'■'abolished  death,"  is  declared  by  Paul  to  have  "brought  hfe 
and  immortality  to  light,"  shining  upon  us  "through  the  gos- 
pel," (g)  whence  also  in  believing  we  are  said  to  have  "  passed 
from  death  unto  life,"  (A)  being  "no  more  strangers  and  fo- 
reigners, but  fellow-citizens  with  the  saints,  and  of  the  house- 
hold of  God,"  (?)  who  "hath  made  us  sit  together  in  heavenly 
places"  with  his  only  begotten  Son,  (k)  that  nothing  may  be 
wanting  to  our  complete  felicity, — yet,  lest  we  should  find  it 
grievous  to  be  still  exercised  with  a  severe  warfare,  as  though 
we  derived  no  benefit  from  the  victory  gained  by  Christ,  we 
must  remember  what  is  stated  in  another  place  concerning  the 
nature  of  hope.  For  "since  we  hope  for  that  we  see  not,"  (I) 
and,  according  to  another  text,  "faith  is  the  evidence  of  things 
not  seen  ;  "  (w)  as  long  as  we  are  confined  in  the  prison  of  the 
flesh,  "we  are  absent  from  the  Lord."  (w)  Wherefore  the  same 
apostle  says,  "  Ye  are  dead,  and  your  life  is  hid  with  Christ  in 
God  ;  "  and  "  when  Christ,  who  is  our  life,  shall  appear,  then 
shall  ye  also  appear  with  him  in  glory."  (o)  This,  then,  is  our 
condition,  "  that  we  should  live  soberly,  righteously,  and  godly, 
in  this  present  world,  looking  for  that  blessed  hope,  and  the 
glorious  appearing  of  the  great  God  and  our  Saviour  Jesus 
Christ."  (j?)  Here  we  have  need  of  more  than  common 
patience,  lest,  being  wearied,  we  pursue  a  retrograde  course,  or 
desert  the  station  assigned  us.  All  that  has  hitherto  been 
stated,  therefore,  concerning  our  salvation,  requires  minds  ele- 
vated towards  heaven,  that,  according  to  the  suggestion  of 
Peter,  we  may  love  Christ,  whom  we  have  not  seen,  and^  be- 

(g)  2  Tim.  i.  10.  (k)  Ephes.  ii.  6.  (ji)  2  Cor.  v.  6. 

(k)   John  V.  24.  (0  Rom.  viii.  24.  (o)  Col.  iii.  3,  4. 

(i)    Ephes.  ii.  19.  (m)  Heb.  xi.  1.  (j»)  Titus  li.  12,  13. 

200  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III 

lieving  in  him,  may  "  rejoice  with  joy  mispeakable  and  full  of 
glory,"  till  we  receive  "the  end  of  our  faith."  (7)  For  which 
reason,  Paul  represents  the  faith  and  hope  of  believers  as  having 
respect  to  "  the  hope  that  is  laid  up  in  heaven."  (r)  When  we 
are  thus  looking  towards  heaven,  with  om*  eyes  fixed  upon 
Christ,  and  nothing  detains  them  on  earth  from  carrying  us 
forward  to  the  promised  blessedness,  we  realize  the  fulfilment 
of  that  declaration,  "  Where  your  treasure  is,  there  will  your 
heart  be  also."  (s)  Hence  it  is,  that  faith  is  so  scarce  in  the 
world  ;  because  to  our  sluggishness  nothing  is  more  difficult 
than  to  ascend  through  innumerable  obstacles,  "  pressing  to- 
ward the  mark,  for  the  prize  of  the  high  calling."  (t)  To  the 
accumulation  of  miseries  which  generally  oppress  us,  are  added 
the  mockeries  of  the  profane,  with  which  our  simplicity  is  as- 
sailed ;  while  voluntarily  renouncing  the  allurements  of  present 
advantage  or  pleasure,  we  seem  to  pursue  happiness,  which  is 
concealed  from  our  view,  like  a  shadow  that  continually  eludes 
our  grasp.  In  a  word,  above  and  below,  before  and  behind,  we 
are  beset  by  violent  temptations,  which  our  minds  would  long 
ago  have  been  incapable  of  sustaining,  if  they  had  not  been 
detached  from  terrestrial  things,  and  attached  to  the  heaven- 
ly life,  which  is  apparently  at  a  remote  distance.  He  alone, 
therefore,  ha^jnade  a  solid  proficiency  in  the  gospel  who  has 
been  accustomed  to  continual  meditation  on  the  blessed  resur- 

II.  The  supreme  good  was  a  subject  of  anxious  dispute,  and 
even  contention,  among  the  ancient  philosophers ;  yet  none  of 
them,  except  Plato,  acknowledged  the  chief  good  of  man  to 
consist  in  his  union  with  God.  But  of  the  nature  of  this 
union  he  had  not  even  the  smallest  idea ;  and  no  wonder,  for 
he  was  totally  uninformed  respecting  the  sacred  bond  of  it. 
We  know  what  is  the  only  and  perfect  happiness  even  in  this 
earthly  pilgrimage  ;  but  it  daily  inflames  our  hearts  with  in- 
creasing desires  after  it,  till  we  shall  be  satisfied  with  its  full 
fruition.  Therefore  I  have  observed  that  the  advantage  of 
Christ's  benefits  is  solely  enjoyed  by  those  who  elevate  their 
minds  to  the  resurrection.  Thus  Paul  also  sets  before  believers 
this  object,  towards  which  he  tells  us  he  directs  all  his  own 
efl'orts,  forgetting  every  thing  else,  "  if  by  any  means  he  may 
attain  unto  it."  (u)  And  it  behoves  us  to  press  forward  to  the 
same  point  with  the  greater  alacrity,  lest,  if  this  world  engross 
our  attention,  we  should  be  grievously  punished  for  our  sloth. 
He  therefore  -characterizes  believers  by  this  mark,  "  Our  con- 
versation is  in  heaven,  from  whence  also  we  look  for  the  Sa- 
viour." (x)     And  that  their  minds  may  not  flag  in  this  course, 

(q)  1  Peter  i.  8,  9.  (s)  Matt.  vi.  21.  (u)  Phil.  iii.  8—11. 

(r)  Col.  i.  5.  (0  Phil.  iii.  14.  (x)  Phil.  iii.  20. 


he  associates  with  them  all  creatures  as  their  companions. 
For  as  ruin  and  deformity  are  visible  on  every  side,  he  tells  us 
that  all  things  in  heaven  and  earth  are  tending  to  renovation. 
For  the  fall  of  Adam  having  deranged  the  perfect  order  of 
nature,  the  bondage  to  which  the  creatures  have  been  subject- 
ed by  the  sin  of  man  is  grievous  and  burdensome  to  them  ;  not 
that  they  are  endued  with  any  intelligence,  but  because  they 
naturally  aspire  to  the  state  of  perfection  from  which  they  have 
fallen.  Paul  therefore  attributes  to  them  groaning  and  travail- 
ing pains,  ((/)  that  we  who  have  received  the  first-fruits  of  the 
Spirit  may  be  ashamed  of  remaining  in  our  corruption,  and  not 
imitating  at  least  the  inanimate  elements  which  bear  the  punish- 
ment of  the  sin  of  others.  But  as  a  still  stronger  stimulus 
to  us,  he  calls  the  second  advent  of  Christ  "our  redemption." 
It  is  true,  indeed,  that  all  the  parts  of  our  redemption  are 
already  completed  ;  but  because  "  Christ  was  once  offered  to 
bear  the  sins  of  many,  he  shall  appear  the  second  time  without 
sin  unto  salvation."  (z)  Whatever  calamities  oppress  us,  this 
redemption  should  support  us  even  till  its  full  consummation, 

III.  Let  the  importance  of  the  object  sharpen  our  pursuit. 
Paul  justly  argues,  that  "  if  there  be  no  resurrection  of  the 
dead,"  the  whole  gospel  is  vain  and  fallacious  ;■:  for  we  should 
be  "of  all  men  the  most  miserable,"  being  exposed  to  the 
hatred  and  reproaches  of  mankind,  "  standing  in  jeopardy 
every  hour,"  (a)  and  being  even  like  sheep  destined  to  the 
slaughter  ;  and  therefore  its  authority  would  fall  to  the  ground 
not  in  one  point  only,  but  in  every  thing  it  contains  relating  to 
adoption  and  the  accomplishment  of  our  salvation.  To  this 
subject,  the  most  important  of  all,  let  us  give  an  attention 
never  to  be  wearied  by  length  of  time.  With  this  vieAV  I  have 
deferred  what  I  shall  briefly  say  of  it  to  this  place,  that  the 
reader,  after  receiving  Christ  as  the  Author  of  complete  salva- 
tion, may  learn  to  soar  higher,  and  may  know  that  he  is  in- 
vested with  heavenly  glory  and  immortality,  in  order  that  the 
whole  body  may  be  conformed  to  the  Head  ;  as  in  his  person 
the  Holy  Spirit  frequently  gives  an  example  of  the  resurrection. 
It  is  a  thing  difficult  to  be  believed,  that  bodies,  after  having 
been  consumed  by  corruption,  shall  at  length,  at  the  appointed 
time,  be  raised  again.  Therefore,  while  many  of  the  philoso- 
phers asserted  the  immortality  of  the  soul,  the  resurrection 
of  the  body  was  admitted  by  few.  And  though  this  fur- 
nishes no  excuse,  yet  it  admonishes  us  that  this  truth  is  too 
difficult  to  command  the  assent  of  the  human  mind.  To  en- 
able faith  to  surmount  so  great  an  obstacle,  the  Scripture  sup- 
plies us  with  two  assistances :  one  consists  in  the  similitude  of 

(y)  Rom.  viii.  19—23.  (z)  Heb.  ix.  28.  (a)  1  Cor.  xv.  13,  &c. 

VOL.  II.  26 

§02  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

Christ,  the  other  in  the  omnipotence  of  God.  Now,  whenever 
the  resurrection  is  mentioned,  let  us  set  before  us  the  image  of 
Christ,  who,  in  our  nature,  which  he  assumed,  finished  his 
course  in  this  mortal  life  in  such  a  manner,  that,  having  now 
obtained  immortality,  he  is  the  pledge  of  future  resurrection  to 
us.  For  in  the  afflictions  that  befall  us,  "  we  bear  about  in  the 
body  the  dying  of  the  Lord  Jesus,  that  the  life  also  of  Jesus 
might  be  made  manifest  in  our  body."  {b)  And  to  separate 
him  from  us,  is  not  lawful,  nor  indeed  possible,  without  rend- 
ing him  asunder.  Hence  the  reasoning  of  Paul :  "  If  there  be 
no  resurrection  of  the  dead,  then  is  Christ  not  risen  ;  "  (c)  for 
he  assumes  this  as  an  acknowledged  principle,  that  Christ 
neither  fell  under  the  power  of  death,  nor  triumphed  over  it  in 
his  resurrection,  for  himself  as  a  private  individual ;  but  that 
all  this  was  a  commencement  in  the  Head  of  what  must  be 
fulfilled  in  all  the  members,  according  to  every  one's  order  and 
degree.  For  it  would  not  be  right,  indeed,  for  them  to  be  in 
all  respects  equal  to  him.  It  is  said  in  the  Psalms,  "  Thou 
wilt  not  suffer  thine  Holy  One  to  see  corruption."  (d)  Though 
a  portion  of  this  confidence  belongs  to  us,  according  to  the  mea- 
sure bestowed  upon  us,  yet  the  perfect  accomplishment  has  been 
seen  in  Christ  alone,  who  had  his  body  restored  to  him  entire, 
free  from  all  corruption.  Now  that  we  may  have  no  doubt 
of  our  fellowship  with  Christ  in  his  blessed  resurrection,  and 
may  be  satisfied  with  this  pledge,  Paul  expressly  affirms  that 
the  design  of  his  session  in  heaven,  and  his  advent  in  the  cha- 
racter of  Judge  at  the  last  day,  is  to  "  change  our  vile  body,  that 
it  may  be  fashioned  like  unto  his  glorious  body."  (e)  In  an- 
other place  also,  he  shows  that  God  raised  his  Son  from  the 
dead,  not  in  order  to  display  a  single  specimen  of  his  power, 
but  to  exert  on  believers  the  same  energy  of  his  Spirit,  whom 
he  therefore  calls  "  our  life  "  while  he  dwells  in  us,  because 
he  was  given  for  this  very  purpose,  "  to  quicken  our  mortal 
bodies."  (/)  I  am  but  briefly  glancing  at  things  which  would 
admit  of  a  fuller  discussion,  and  are  deserving  of  more  elegance 
of  style  ;  but  I  trust  the  pious  reader  will  find  in  a  small  com- 
pass sufficient  matter  for  the  edification  of  his  faith.  Christ, 
therefore,  rose  again,  that  we  might  be  the  companions  of  his 
future  life.  He  was  raised  by  the  Father,  inasmuch  as  he  was 
the  Head  of  the  church,  from  which  he  does  not  sufler  him  to 
be  separated.  He  was  raised  by  the  power  of  the  Spirit,  who  is 
given  to  us  also  for  the  purpose  of  quickening  us.  In  a  word, 
he  was  raised  that  he  might  be  "  the  resurrection  and  the  life." 
But  as  we  have  observed  that  this  mirror  exhibits  to  us  a  lively 
image  of  our  resurrection,  so  it  will  furnish  a  firm  foundation 

(b)  2  Cor.  iv.  10.  (c)  1  Cor.  xv.  13.  (d)  Psalm  xvi.  10. 

(e)  Phil.  iii.  21.  (/)  Col.  iii.  4.    Rom.  viii.  11. 


for  our  minds  to  rest  upon,  provided  we  are  hot  wearied  or  dis- 
turbed by  the  long  delay ;  because  it  is  not  ours  to  measure 
the  moments  of  time  by  our  own  incUnation,  but  to  wait  pa- 
tiently for  God's  establishment  of  his  kingdom  in  his  own 
appointed  time.  To  this  purpose  is  the  expression  of  Paul, 
'^  Christ  the  first-fruits,  afterward  they  that  are  Christ's  at  his 
coming."  (g)  But  that  no  doubt  might  be  entertained  of  the 
resurrection  of  Christ,  on  which  the  resurrection  of  us  all  is 
founded,  we  see  in  how  many  and  various  ways  he  has  caused 
it  to  be  attested  to  us.  Scorners  will  ridicule  the  history  nar- 
rated by  the  evangelists,  as  a  childish  mockery.  For  what 
weight,  they  ask,  is  there  in  the  message  brought  by  some 
women  in  a  fright,  and  afterwards  confirmed  by  the  disciples 
half  dead  with  fear  ?  Why  does  not  Christ  rather  set  up  the 
splendid  trophies  of  his  victory  in  the  midst  of  the  temple  and 
the  public  places  ?  Why  does  he  not  make  a  formidable  en- 
trance into  the  presence  of  Pilate  ?  Why  does  he  not  prove 
himself  to  be  again  alive,  to  the  priests  and  all  the  inhabitants 
of  Jerusalem  ?  Profane  men  will  scarcely  believe  the  persons 
selected  by  him  to  be  competent  witnesses.  I  reply,  notwith- 
standing the  contemptible  weakness  evident  in  these  begin- 
nings, yet  all  this  was  conducted  by  the  admirable  providence 
of  God,  that  they  who  were  lately  dispirited  with  fear,  were 
hurried  away  to  the  sepulchre,  partly  by  love  to  Christ  and  pious 
zeal,  partly  by  their  own  unbelief,  not  only  to  be  eye-witnesses  of 
the  fact,  but  to  hear  from  the  angels  the  same  as  they  saw  with 
their  eyes.  How  can  we  suspect  the  authority  of  those  who 
considered  what  they  heard  from  the  women  "  as  idle  tales," 
till  they  had  the  fact  clearly  before  them?  (A)  As  to  the  peo- 
ple at  large,  and  the  governor  himself,  it  is  no  wonder  that 
after  the  ample  conviction  they  had,  they  were  denied  a  sight 
of  Christ,  or  any  other  proofs.  The  sepulchre  is  sealed,  a 
watch  is  set,  the  body  is  not  found  on  the  third  day.  The 
soldiers,  corrupted  by  bribes,  circulate  a  rumour  that  he  was 
stolen  away  by  his  disciples  ;  (i)  as  if  they  had  power  to  collect 
a  strong  force,  or  were  furnished  with  arms,  or  were  even  ac- 
customed to  such  a  daring  exploit.  But  if  the  soldiers  had  not 
courage  enough  to  repulse  them,  why  did  they  not  pursue 
them,  that  with  the  assistance  of  the  people  they  might  seize 
some  of  them  ?  The  truth  is,  therefore,  that  Pilate  by  his  zeal 
attested  the  resurrection  of  Christ ;  and  the  guards  who  were 
placed  at  the  sepulchre,  either  by  their  silence  or  by  their  false- 
hood, were  in  reality  so  many  heralds  to  publish  the  same  fact. 
In  the  mean  time,  the  voice  of  the  angels  loudly  proclaimed, 
'He  is  not  here,  but  is  risen."  (A;)     Their  celestial  splendour 

(g)  1  Cor.  XV.  23.  (0  Matt,  xxvii.  66  ;  xxviii.  11,  «&c. 

{h)  Luke  xxiv.  11.  (Ic)  Luke  xxiv.  4—6.     Matt,  xxviii  3—6. 

204  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

evidently  showed  them  to  be  angels,  and  not  men.  After  this, 
if  there  was  any  doubt  still  remaining,  it  was  removed  by 
Christ  himself.  More  than  once,  his  disciples  saw,  and  even 
felt  and  handled  him  ;  and  their  unbelief  has  eminently  con- 
tributed to  the  confirmation  of  our  faith.  He  discoursed  among 
them  concerning  the  mysteries  of  the  kingdom  of  God,  and  at 
length  they  saw  him  ascend  to  heaven,  (l)  Nor  was  this  spec- 
tacle exhibited  only  to  the  eleven  apostles,  but  "  he  was  seen 
of  above  five  hundred  brethren  at  once."  (m)  By  the  mission 
of  the  Holy  Spirit  he  gave  an  undeniable  proof,  not  only  of 
his  life,  but  also  of  his  sovereign  dominion ;  according  to  his 
prediction,  "  It  is  expedient  for  you  that  I  go  away ;  for  if  I  go 
not  away,  the  Comforter  will  not  come  unto  you ;  but  if  I  de- 
part, I  will  send  him  unto  you."  (ii)  Paul,  in  his  way  to  Da- 
mascus, was  not  prostrated  to  the  ground  by  the  influence  of  a 
dead  man,  but  felt  that  the  person  whom  he  was  opposing  was 
armed  with  supreme  power.  He  appeared  to  Stephen  for  an- 
other reason  —  to  overcome  the  fear  of  death  by  an  assurance 
of  life,  (o)  To  refuse  credit  to  testimonies  so  numerous  and 
authentic,  is  not  diffidence,  but  perverse  and  unreasonable  ob- 

IV.  The  remark  we  have  made,  that  in  proving  the  resurrec- 
tion, our  minds  should  be  directed  to  the  infinite  power  of  God, 
is  briefly  suggested  in  these  words  of  Paul :  "  Who  shall 
change  our  vile  body,  that  it  may  be  fashioned  like  unto  his 
glorious  body,  according  to  the  working  whereby  he  is  able 
even  to  subdue  all  things  unto  himself."  (p)  It  would  there- 
fore be  extremely  unreasonable  here,  to  consider  what  could 
possibly  happen  in  the  ordinary  course  of  nature,  when  the 
object  proposed  to  us  is  an  inestimable  miracle,  the  magnitude 
of  which  absorbs  all  our  faculties.  Yet  Paul  adduces  an  ex- 
ample from  nature  to  reprove  the  folly  of  those  who  deny  the 
resurrection.  "  Thou  fool,"  says  he,  "  that  which  thou  sowest 
is  not  quickened,  except  it  die."  (q)  He  tells  us  that  seed 
sown  displays  an  image  of  the  resurrection,  because  the  corn  is 
reproduced  from  putrefaction.  Nor  would  it  be  a  thing  so  diffi- 
cult to  believe,  if  we  paid  proper  attention  to  the  miracles 
which  present  themselves  to  our  view  in  all  parts  of  the  world. 
But  let  us  remember,  that  no  man  will  be  truly  persuaded  of 
the  future  resurrection,  but  he  who  is  filled  with  admiration, 
and  ascribes  to  the  power  of  God  the  glory  that  is  due  to 
it.  Transported  with  this  confidence,  Isaiah  exclaims,  "  Thy 
dead  men  shall  live ;  together  with  my  dead  body  shall  they 
arise;  awake  and  sing,  ye  that  dwell  in  dust."  (r)    Surrounded 

(/)  Acts  i.  ;^,  9.  (m)  1  Cor.  xv.  6.  (n)  John  xvi.  7.  (o)  Acts  vii.  55. 

I  J,)  Phil.  iii.  21.  (5)  1  Cor.  xv.  36.  (r)  Isaiah  xxvi.  19. 


by  desperate  circumstances,  he  has  recourse  to  God,  the  Author 
of  life,  unto  whom,  as  the  Psahnist  says,  "  belong  tlie  issues 
from  death."  (s)  Even  reduced  to  a  state  resembhng  a  dead 
carcass  more  than  a  Hving  man,  yet  relying  on  the  power  of 
God,  just  as  if  he  were  in  perfect  health,  Job  looks  forward 
without  any  doubts  to  that  day.  "  I  know,"  says  he,  "  that 
my  Redeemer  liveth,  and  that  he  shall  stand  at  the  latter  day 
upon  the  earth,"  there  to  display  his  power;  "and  though  after 
my  skin,  worms  destroy  this  body,  yet  in  my  flesh  shall  I  see 
God  ;  whom  I  shall  see  for  myself,  and  not  another."  (/)  For 
though  some  persons  employ  great  subtilty  to  pervert  these 
texts,  as  if  they  ought  not  to  be  understood  of  the  resurrection, 
they  nevertheless  confirm  what  they  wish  to  destroy ;  since 
holy  men,  in  the  midst  of  calamities,  seek  consolation  from  no 
other  quarter  than  from  the  similitude  of  the  resurrection  ; 
which  more  fully  appears  from  a  passage  in  Ezekiel.  (u)  For 
when  the  Jews  rejected  the  promise  of  their  restoration,  and 
objected,  that  there  was  no  more  probability  of  a  way  being 
opened  for  their  return,  than  of  the  dead  coming  forth  from 
their  sepulchres,  a  vision  is  presented  to  the  prophet,  of  a  field 
full  of  dry  bones,  and  God  commands  them  to  receive  flesh 
and  nerves.  Though  this  figure  is  intended  to  inspire  the 
people  with  a  hope  of  restoration,  he  borrows  the  argument  for 
it  from  the  resurrection  ;  as  it  is  to  us  also  the  principal  model 
of  all  the  deliverances  which  believers  experience  in  this 
world.  So  Christ,  after  having  declared  that  the  voice  of  the 
gospel  communicates  life,  in  consequence  of  its  rejection  by 
the  Jews,  immediately  adds,  "Marvel  not  at  this ;  for  the  hour 
is  coming,  in  the  which  all  that  are  in  the  graves  shall  hear 
his  voice,  and  shall  come  forth."  (a;)  After  the  example  of 
Paul,  therefore,  let  us  even  now  triumphantly  exult  in  the 
midst  of  our  conflicts,  that  he  who  has  promised  us  a  life  to 
come  "  is  able  to  keep  that  which  we  have  committed  to  him  ;  " 
and  thus  let  us  glory  that  "  there  is  laid  up  for  us  a  crown  of 
righteousness,  which  the  righteous  Judge  shall  give  us."  (y) 
The  consequence  of  this  will  be,  that  all  the  troubles  we  suffer 
will  point  us  to  the  life  to  come,  "  seeing  it  is  a  righteous  thing 
with  God,"  and  agreeable  to  his  nature,  "  to  recompense  tribu- 
lation to  them  that  trouble  us,  and  to  us  who  are  "  unjustly 
"troubled,  rest,  when  the  Lord  Jesus  shall  be  revealed,  with  his 
mighty  angels,  in  flaming  fire."  (z)  But  we  must  remember 
what  immediately  follows,  that  "  he  shall  come  to  be  glorified 
in  his  saints,  and  to  be  admired  in  all  them  that  believe,"  be- 
cause they  believe  the  gospel. 

[s)  Psalm  Ixviii.  20.  (m)  Ezek.  xxxvii.  1—14.  (?/)  2  Tim.  i.  12 ;  iv.  8. 

(t)  Job  xix.  25,  27.  (x)  John  v.  28,  29.  (:)  2  Thess.  i.  6—8,  10 

INSTITUTES    OP    THE  [bOOK    Hi. 

V.  Now,  though  the  minds  of  men  ought  to  be  continually 
occupied  with  the  study  of  this  subject,  yet  as  if  they  expressly 
intended  to  abolish  all  remembrance  of  the  resurrection,  they 
have  called  death  the  end  of  all  things,  and  the  destruction  of 
man.  For  Solomon  certainly  speaks  according  to  a  common 
Tud  received  opinion,  when  he  says,  "  A  living  dog  is  better 
than  a  dead  lion."  (a)  And  again  :  "  Who  knows  whether  the 
spirit  of  man  goeth  upward,  and  the  spirit  of  the  beast  goeth 
downward  ?  "  (6)  This  brutish  stupidity  has  infected  all  ages 
of  the  world,  and  even  forced  its  way  into  the  Church  ;  for  the 
Sadducees  had  the  audacity  publicly  to  profess,  that  there  is 
no  resurrection,  and  that  souls  are  mortal.  But  that  none 
might  be  excused  by  this  gross  ignorance,  the  very  instinct  of 
nature  has  always  set  before  the  eyes  of  unbelievers  an  image 
of  the  resurrection.  For  what  is  the  sacred  and  inviolable  cus- 
tom of  interring  the  dead,  but  a  pledge  of  another  life  ?  Nor 
can  it  be  objected  that  this  originated  in  error  ;  for  the  rites  of 
sepulture  were  always  observed  among  the  holy  fathers  ;  and 
it  pleased  God  that  the  same  custom  should  be  retained  among 
the  Gentiles,  that  their  torpor  might  be  roused  by  the  image  of 
the  resurrection  thereby  set  before  them.  Though  this  cere- 
mony produced  no  good  effects  upon  them,  yet  it  will  be  use- 
ful to  us,  if  we  wisely  consider  its  tendency  ;  for  it  is  no  slight 
refutation  of  unbelief,  that  all  united  in  professing  a  thing  that 
none  of  them  believed.  But  Satan  has  not  only  stupefied  men's 
minds,  to  make  them  bury  the  memory  of  the  resurrection 
together  with  the  bodies  of  the  dead,  but  has  endeavoured  to 
corrupt  this  point  of  doctrine  by  various  fictions,  with  an  ul- 
timate view  to  its  total  subversion.  Not  to  mention  that  he 
began  to  oppose  it  in  the  days  of  Paul,  not  long  after  arose  the 
Millenarians,  who  limited  the  reign  of  Christ  to  a  thousand 
years.  Their  fiction  is  too  puerile  to  require  or  deserve  refu- 
tation. Nor  does  the  Revelation,  which  they  quote  in  favour 
of  their  error,  afford  them  any  support  ;  for  the  term  of  a  thou- 
sand years,  there  mentioned,  (c)  refers  not  to  the  eternal  bless- 
edness of  the  Church,  but  to  the  various  agitations  which 
awaited  the  Church  in  its  militant  state  upon  earth.  But  the 
whole  Scripture  proclaims  that  there  will  be  no  end  of  the 
happiness  of  the  elect,  or  the  punishment  of  the  reprobate. 
Now,  all  those  things  which  are  invisible  to  our  eyes,  or  far 
above  the  comprehension  of  our  minds,  must  either  be  believed 
on  the  authority  of  the  oracles  of  God,  or  entirely  rejected. 
Those  who  assign  the  children  of  God  a  thousand  years  to  en- 
joy the  inheritance  of  the  future  life,  little  think  what  dis- 
honour they  cast  on  Christ  and  his  kingdom.     For  if  they  are 

(a)  Eccl.  ix.  4.  (6)  Eccl.  iu.  21.  (c)  Rev.  xx.  4. 


not  invested  with  immortality,  neither  is  Christ  himself,  into 
the  likeness  of  whose  glory  they  will  be  transformed,  received 
up  into  immortal  glory.  If  their  happiness  will  have  any  end, 
it  follows  that  the  kingdom  of  Christ,  on  the  stability  of  which 
it  rests,  is  temporary.  Lastly,  either  these  persons  are  ex- 
tremely ignorant  of  all  Divine  things,  or  they  are  striving,  with 
malignant  perverseness,  to  overturn  all  the  grace  of  God  and 
power  of  Christ ;  and  these  can  never  be  perfectly  fulfilled  till 
sin  is  abolished,  and  death  swallowed  up,  and  eternal  life 
completely  established.  But  the  folly  of  being  afraid  that  too 
much  cruelty  is  attributed  to  God,  if  the  reprobate  are  doomed 
to  eternal  punishment,  is  even  evident  to  the  blind.  Will  the 
Lord  do  any  injury  by  refusing  the  enjoyment  of  his  kingdom 
to  persons  whose  ingratitude  shall  have  rendered  them  unwor- 
thy of  it  ?  But  their  sins  are  temporary.  This  I  grant ;  but 
the  majesty  of  God,  as  well  as  his  justice,  which  their  sins 
have  violated,  is  eternal.  Their  iniquity,  therefore,  is  justly 
remembered.  Then  the  punishment  is  alleged  to  be  excessive, 
being  disproportioned  to  the  crime.  But  this  is  intolerable 
blasphemy,  when  the  majesty  of  God  is  so  little  valued,  when 
the  contempt  of  it  is  considered  of  no  more  consequence  than 
the  destruction  of  one  soul.  But  let  us  pass  by  these  triflers  ; 
lest,  contrary  to  what  we  have  before  said,  we  should  appear 
to  consider  their  reveries  as  worthy  of  refutation. 

VL  Beside  these  wild  notions,  the  perverse  curiosity  of  man 
has  introduced  two  others.  Some  have  supposed  that  the 
whole  man  dies,  and  that  souls  are  raised  again  together  with 
bodies ;  others,  admitting  the  immortality  of  souls,  suppose  they 
will  be  clothed  with  new  bodies,  and  thereby  deny  the  resur- 
rection of  the  flesh.  As  I  have  touched  on  the  former  of  these 
notions  in  the  creation  of  man,  it  will  be  sufficient  again  to 
apprize  my  readers,  that  lit  is  a  brutish  error,  to  represent  the 
spirit,  formed  after  the  imaged  God,  as  a  fleeting  breath  which 
animates  the  body  only  during  this  perishable  life,  and  to  anni- 
hilate the  temple  of  the  Holy  Spirit ;  in  short,  to  despoil  that 
part  of  us  in  which  Divinity  is  eminently  displayed,  and  th« 
characters  of  immortality  are  conspicuous,  of  this  property ;  so 
that  the  condition  of  the  body  must  be  better  and  more  excel- 
lent than  that  of  the  soul.  Very  diflerent  is  the  doctrine  of 
Scripture,  which  compares  tlie  body  to  a  habitation,  from  which 
we  depart  at  death  \  because  it  estimates  us  by  that  part  of  our 
nature  which  constitutes  the  distinction  between  us  and  the 
brutes.  Thus  Peter,  when  near  his  death,  says,  "  Shortly  I 
must  put  ofl"  this  my  tabernacle."  (d)  And  Paul,  speaking  of 
believers,  having  said  that  "  if  our  earthly  house  of  this  taber- 

(d)  2  Peter  i.  14. 


208  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III, 

nacle  were  dissolved,  we  have  a  building  in  the  heavens,"  adds 
that  "  whilst  we  are  at  home  in  the  body,  we  are  absent  from 
the  Lord,  and  willing  rather  to  be  absent  from  the  body,  and  to 
be  present  with  the  Lord."  (e)  Unless  our  souls  survive  our 
bodies,  what  is  it  that  is  present  with  God  when  separated  from 
the  body  ?  But  the  apostle  removes  all  doubt  when  he  says 
that  we  are  "come  to  the  spirits  of  just  men  made  perfect."  (/) 
By  which  expression  he  means,  that  we  are  associated  with  the 
holy  fathers,  who,  though  dead,  still  maintain  the  same  piety 
with  us,  so  that  we  cannot  be  members  of  Christ  witliout  being 
united  with  them.  \I£souls  separated  from  bodies  did  not  retain 
their  existence  so  as  toHbe  capable  of  glory  and  felicity,  Christ 
would  not  have  said  to  the  thief,  "  To-day  shalt  thou  be  with 
me  in  paradise."  (g)  |  Supported  by  such  undeniable  testimo- 
nies, let  us  not  hesitate,  after  the  example  of  Christ,  when  we 
die,  to  commend  our  spirits  to  God ;  or,  like  Stephen,  to  resign 
them  to  the  care  of  Christ,  who  is  justly  called  the  faithful 
"  Shepherd  and  Bishop  of  souls."  Over-curious  inquiry  re- 
specting their  intermediate  state  is  neither  lawful  nor  useful. 
Many  persons  exceedingly  perplex  themselves  by  discussing 
what  place  they  occupy,  and  whether  they  already  enjoy  the 
glory  of  heaven,  or  not.  But  it  is  folly  and  presumption  to 
push  our  inquiries  on  unknown  things  beyond  what  God  per- 
mits us  to  know.  The  Scripture  declares  that  Christ  is  present 
with  them,  and  receives  them  into  paradise,  where  they  enjoy 
consolation,  and  that  the  souls  of  the  reprobate  endure  the  tor- 
ments which  they  have  deserved  ;  but  it  proceeds  no  further. 
Now,  what  teacher  or  doctor  shall  discover  to  us  that  which  God 
has  concealed?  The  question  respecting  place  is  equally  senseless 
and  futile  ;  because  we  know  that  the  soul  has  no  dimensions 
like  the  body.  The  blessed  assemblage  of  holy  spirits  being 
called  the  bosom  of  Abraham,  teaches  us  that  it  is  enough  for 
us,  at  the  close  of  this  pilgrimage,  to  be  received  by  the  common 
Father  of  believers,  and  to  participate  with  him  in  the  fruit  of 
his  faith.  In  the  mean  while,  as  the  Scripture  uniformly  com- 
mands us  to  look  forward  with  eager  expectation  to  the  coming 
of  Christ,  and  defers  the  crown  of  glory  which  awaits  us  till 
that  period,  let  us  be  content  within  these  limits  which  God 
prescribes  to  us  —  that  the  souls  of  pious  men,  after  finishing 
their  laborious  warfare,  depart  into  a  state  of  blessed  rest, 
where  they  wait  with  joy  and  pleasure  for  the  fruition  of  the 
promised  glory ;  and  so,  that  all  things  remain  in  suspense  till 
Christ  appears  as  the  Redeemer.  And  there  is  no  doubt  that 
the  condition  of  the  reprobate  is  the  same  as  Jude  assigns  to 
the  devils,  who  are  confined  and  bound  in  chains  till  they  are 
brought  forth  to  the  punishment  to  which  they  are  doomed. 

(c)  2  Cor.  V.  1,  8.  (/)  Heb.  xii.  23.  (g)  Luke  xxiii.  43. 


VII.   Eq[iially  monstrous  is  the  error  of  those  who  imagine 
that  souls  will  not  resume  the  bodies  which  at  present  belong  to 
them,  but  will  be  furnished  with  others  altogether  different.     It 
was  the  very  futile  reasoning  of  the  Manichasans,  that  it  is  absurd 
^  to  expect  that  the  flesh  which  is  so  impure  will  ever  rise  again. 
7  (As  if  there  were  no  impurity  attached  to  the  souls,  which  they 
,(   \eyertheless  encouraged  to  entertain  hopes  of  a  heavenly  life. 
It  was  therefore  just  as  if  they  had  maintained,  that  any  thing  \ 
infected  with  the  contagion  of  sin  is  incapable  of  being  purified  f 
by  the  power  of  God  \  for  that  reverie,  that  the  flesh  was  ere-  I 
ated  by  the  devil,  and  therefore  naturally  impure,  I  at  present 
forbear  to  notice  ;  and  only  observe,  that  whatever  we  have  in 
us  now  unworthy  of  heaven,  will  not  hinder  the  resurrection. 
In  the  first  place,  when  Paul  exhorts  believers  to  "cleanse" 
themselves  "  from   all  filthiness  of  the  flesh   and   spirit,"  (h) 
thence  follows  the  judgment  he  elsewhere  denounces,  "  that 
every  one  "  shall  "  receive  the  things  done  in  his  body,  accord- 
ing to  that  he  hath  done,  whether  it  be  good  or  bad ;  "  (i)  with 
which   agrees   another    passage,  "that  the  life  also  of  Jesus 
might  be  made  manifest  in  our  body."  (k)     Wherefore  in  an- 
other place,  he  prays  to  God  that  the  whole  person  may  "  be 
preserved  blameless  unto  the  coming  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ," 
even  the  "body,"  as  well  as  the  "soul  and  spirit."  (/)    And  no    ) 
wonder;  for  that^ those  bodies  which    God  has  dedicated   as\  \ 
temples  for  himseff,  should  sink  into  corruption,  without  any  "^ 
hope  of  resurrection,  would  be  absurd  in  the  extreme,  v  What 
is  to  be  concluded  from  their  being  members  of  Christ  ?  {m) 
from  God's  enjoining  every  part  of  them  to  be  sanctified  to 
himself,  requiring   their  tongues  to  celebrate  his  name,  their 
hands  to  be  lifted  up  with  purity  to  him,  (??)  and  their  bodies 
altogether  to  be  presented  to  him  as  "living  sacrifices?"  (o) 
This  part  of  our  nature  therefore  being  dignified  with  such  illus- 
trious honour  by  the  heavenly  Judge,  what  madness  is  betrayed 
by  a  mortal  man,  in  asserting  it  to  be  reduced  to  ashes  without'^ 
any  hope  of  restoration  !     And  Paul,  when  he  gives  us  this 
exhortation,  "  Glorify  God  in  your  body,  and  in  your  spirit, 
which  are  God's,"  (p)  certainly  does  not  countenance  consign- 
ing to  eternal  corruption  that  which  he  asserts  to  be  consecrated 
to  God.     Nor  is  there  any  point  more  clearly  established  in 
Scripture,  than  the  resurrection  of  our  present  bodies.     "  This 
corruptible,"  says  Paul,  "  must  put  on  incorruption,  and  this 
mortal  must  put  on  immortality."  (7)     If  new  bodies  w^ere  to 
be  formed  by    God,   what  would  become  of  this    change  of 
ijuality  ?     If  it  had  been  said,  that  we  must  be  renewed,  the 

(A)  2  Cor.  vii.  1.  (0  1  Thoss.  v.  23.  (o)  Rom.  xii.  1. 

(/)  2  Cor.  V.  10.  (to)  1  Cor.  vi.  15.  («)  i  Cor.  vi.  20 

(k)  2  Cor.  iv.  10.  (n)  1  Tim.  ii.  8.  (q)  1  Cor.  xv.  54. 

VOL.   II.  27 

210  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

ambiguity  of  the  expression  might  have  given  occasion  for 
cavil  :  now,  when  he  particularly  designates  th^  bodies  that 
surround  us,  and  promises  that  they  shall  be  "  raised  in  incor-. 
ruption,"  it  is  a  sufficient  deuial  of  the  formation  of  new  ones.4^ 
"  He  could  not  indeed,"  says  Tertullian,  "have  spoken  more'ex^ 
pressly,  unless  he  had  held  his  own  skin  in  his  iiand."  Nor  will 
any  cavil  evade  the  declaration  of  Isaiah,  cited  by  the  apostle, 
respecting  Christ  as  the  future  Judge  of  the  world  :  "  As  I  live, 
saith  the  Lord,  every  knee  shall  bow  to  me  ;  "  (r)  for  he  plamly 
declares  to  the  persons  addressed  by  him,  that  they  shall  be 
obliged  to  give  an  account  of  their  lives  ;  which  would  not  be 
reasonable,  if  new  bodies  were  to  be  placed  at  the  tribunal. 
There  is  no  obscurity  in  the  language  of  Daniel :  "  Many  of 
them  that  sleep  in  the  dust  of  the  earth  shall  awake,  some  to 
everlasting  life,  and  some  to  shame  and  everlasting  con- 
tempt." (s)  For  God  does  not  collect  fresh  materials  from  the 
four  elements  for  the  fabrication  of  men,  but  calls  the  dead  out 
of  their  sepulchres.  And  this  the  plainest  reason  dictates. 
For  if  death,  which  originated  in  the  fall  of  man,  be  adventi- 
tious, and  not  necessary  to  our  nature,  the  restoration  effected 
by  Christ  belongs  to  the  same  body  which  was  thus  rendered 
mortal.  From  the  ridicule  of  the  Athenians,  when  Paul  assert- 
ed the  resurrection,  it  is  easy  to  infer  the  nature  of  his  doc- 
trine ;  and  that  ridicule  is  of  no  small  weight  for  the  confirmation 
of  our  faith.  The  injunction  of  Christ  also  is  worthy  of  atten- 
tion :  "  Fear  not  them  which  kill  the  body,  but  are  not  able  to 
kill  the  soul ;  but  rather  fear  him  which  is  able  to  destroy  both 
soul  and  body  in  hell."  {t)  For  there  would  be  no  reason  for 
this  fear,  if  the  body  which  we  now  carry  about  were  not 
hable  to  punishment.  Another  of  Christ's  declarations  is  equal- 
ly plain  :  "  The  hour  is  coming,  in  the  which  all  that  are  in 
the  graves  shall  hear  his  voice,  and  shall  come  forth,  they  that 
have  done  good,  unto  the  resurrection  of  life,  and  they  that 
have  done  evil,  unto  the  resurrection  of  damnation."  {u)  Shall 
we  say  that  souls  rest  in  graves,  and  will  there  hear  the  voice 
of  Christ,  and  not  rather  that  bodies  at  his  command  will  return 
to  the  vigour  they  had  lost  ?  Besides,  if  we  are  to  receive  new 
bodies,  where  will  be  the  conformity  between  the  Head  and 
members  ?  Christ  rose ;  was  it  by  making  himself  a  new 
body?  No,  but  according  to  his  prediction,  "Destroy  this 
temple,  and  in  three  days  I  will  raise  it  up."  {x)  The  mortal 
body  which  he  before  possessed,  he  again  assumed.  For 
it  would  have  conduced  but  little  to  our  benefit,  if  there 
had  been  a  substitution  of  a  new  body,  and  an  annihilation  of 

(r)  Rom.  xiv.  11,  12.  (5)  D.-n.  xii.  2.  («)  Matt.  x.  28. 

(m)  John  V.  28,  29.  {x)  John  ii.  19. 


that  which  had  been  offered  as  an  atoning  sacrifice.  We  must, 
therefore,  maintain  the  connection  stated  by  the  apostle  —  that 
Ave  shall  rise,  because  Christ  has  risen  ;  (y)  for  nothing  is  more 
improbable,  than  that  our  body,  m  which  "  we  bear  about  the 
dying  of  the  Lord  Jesus,"  (z)  should  be  deprived  of  a  resurrec- 
tion similar  to  his.  There  was  an  illustrious  example  of  this 
immediately  on  Christ's  resurrection,  when  "the  graves  were 
opened,  and  many  bodies  of  the  saints  which  slept  arose."  (a) 
For  it  cannot  be  denied,  that  this  was  a  prelude,  or  rather  an 
earnest,  of  the  final  resurrection,  which  we  expect  ;  such  as 
was  exhibited  before  in  Enoch  and  Elias,  whom  Tertullian 
speaks  of  as  "the  candidates  of  the  resurrection,"  because  they 
were  taken  into  the  immediate  care  of  God,  with  an  entire  ex- 
emption from  corruption  in  body  and  soul. 

VIII.  I  am  ashamed  of  consuming  so  many  words  on  so 
clear  a  subject ;  but  my  readers  will  cheerfully  unite  with  me  in 
submitting  to  this  trouble,  that  no  room  may  be  left  for  men  of 
perverse  and  presumptuous  minds  to  deceive  the  unwary.  The 
tinsteady  spirits  I  am  now  opposing,  bring  forward  a  figment  of 
their  own  brains,  that  at  the  resurrection  there  will  be  a  creation 
of  new  bodies.  What  reason  can  induce  them  to  adopt  this 
sentiment,  but  a  seeming  incredibility,  in  their  apprehension, 
that  a  body  long  consumed  by  corruption  can  ever  return  to  its 
pristine  state  ?  Unbelief,  therefore,  is  the  only  source  of  this 
opinion.  In  the  Scripture,  on  the  contrary,  we  are  uniformly 
exhorted  by  the  Spirit  of  God  to  hope  for  the  resurrection  of 
our  body.  For  this  reason,  baptism  is  spoken  of  by  Paul  as  a  ) 
seal  of  our  future  resurrection  ;  (b)  and  we  are  as  clearly  invited 
to  this  confidence  by  the  sacred  Supper,  when  we  receive  into 
our  mouths  the  symbols  of  spiritual  grace.  And  certainly  the 
exhortation  of  Paul,  to  "yield  our  members  as  instruments 
of  righteousness  unto  God,"  (c)  would  lose  all  its  force,  if 
unaccompanied  by  what  he  afterwards  subjoins :  "  He  that 
raised  up  Christ  from  the  dead,  shall  also  quicken  your  mortal  ^ 
bodies."  (d)  For  what  would  it  avail  to  devote  our  feet,  hands, 
eyes,  and  tongues  to  the  service  of  God,  if  they  were  not  to 
participate  the  benefit  and  reward  ?  This  is  clearly  confirmed 
by  the  following  passage  of  Paul :  "  The  body  is  not  for  for- 
nication, but  for  the  Lord  ;  and  the  Lord  for  the  body.  And 
God  hath  both  raised  up  the  Lord,  and  will  also  raise  up  us  by 
his  own  power."  (e)  The  following  passages  are  still  plainer  — 
that  our  bodies  are  the  "  temples  of  the  Holy  Ghost,"  and 
"  members  of  Christ."  (/)  In  the  mean  time,  we  see  how  he 
connects  the  resurrection  with  chastity  and  holiness ;  and  so 

(y)  1  Cor.  XV.  12,  &c.  (6)  Col.  ii.  12.  (e)  1  Cor.  vi.  13,  14. 

(z)  2  Cor.  iv.  10.  (c)  Rom.  vi.  13.  (/)  1  Cor.  vi.  15, 19,  20. 

(a)  Matt.  xxvi.  52.  (d)  Rom.  viii.  11. 

212  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

he  just  after  extends  the  price  of  redemption  to  our  bodies. 
Now,  it  would  be  extremely  unreasonable  that  the  body  of  Paul, 
in  which  he  "  bore  the  marks  of  the  Lord  Jesus,"  (g)  and  in 
which  he  eminently  glorified  Christ,  should  be  deprived  of  the 
reward  of  the  crown.  Hence  also  that  exultation  :  "  We  look 
for  the  Saviour  from  heaven,  who  shall  change  our  vile  body, 
that  it  may  be  fashioned  like  unto  his  glorious  body."  (h)  And 
if  it  be  true,  '•  that  we  must  through  much  tribulation  enter 
into  the  kingdom  of  God,"  (i)  there  can  be  no  reason  for  pro- 
hibiting this  entrance  to  the  bodies,  which  God  trains  under  the 
banner  of  the  cross,  and  honours  with  the  glory  of  victory. 
Therefore  no  doubt  has  ever  been  entertained  by  the  saints, 
whether  they  should  hope  to  be  companions  of  Christ  here- 
after ;  who  transfers  to  his  own  person  all  the  afflictions  with 
which  we  are  tried,  to  teach  us  that  they  are  conducting  us  to  life. 
And  God  also  established  the  holy  fathers  under  the  law  in  this 
faith  by  an  external  ceremony.  For  to  what  purpose  was  the 
rite  of  sepulture,  as  we  have  already  seen,  but  to  instruct  them 
that  another  life  was  prepared  for  the  interred  bodies  ?  The 
same  was  suggested  by  the  spices  and  other  symbols  of  immor- 
tality, which,  like  the  sacrifices  under  the  law,  assisted  the 
obscurity  of  direct  instruction.  Nor  did  this  custom  arise  from 
superstition ;  for  we  find  the  Holy  Spirit  as  diligent  in  mention- 
ing the  sepultures,  as  in  insisting  on  the  principal  mysteries  of 
faith.  And  Christ  commends  this  as  no  mean  office  ;  (k)  certainly 
for  no  other  reason,  but  because  it  raises  our  eyes  from  the  view 
of  the  grave,  which  corrupts  and  dissolves  all  things,  to  the  spec- 
tacle of  future  renovation.  Besides  the  very  careful  observance 
of  this  ceremony,  which  is  commended  in  the  fathers,  suffi- 
ciently proves  it  to  have  been  an  excellent  and  valuable  as- 
sistance to  faith.  Nor  would  Abraham  have  discovered  such 
solicitous  concern  about  the  sepulchre  of  his  wife,  if  he  had  not 
been  actuated  by  motives  of  religion,  and  the  prospect  of  more 
than  worldly  advantage  ;  that  by  adorning  her  dead  body  with 
the  emblems  of  the  resurrection,  he  might  confirm  his  own  faith, 
and  that  of  his  family.  (/)  There  is  yet  a  clearer  proof  of  this 
in  the  example  of  Jacob  ;  who,  to  testify  to  his  posterity  that 
the  hope  of  the  promised  land  did  not  forsake  his  heart  even  in 
death,  commands  his  bones  to  be  reconveyed  thither,  (m)  If  he 
was  to  be  furnished  with  a  new  body,  would  not  this  have  been. 
a  ridiculous  command  concerning  dust  that  was  soon  to  be  an- 
nihilated ?  Wherefore,  if  the  authority  of  the  Scripture  has 
any  weight  with  us,  no  clearer  or  stronger  proof  of  any  doctrine 
can  possibly  be  desired.     Even  children  understand  this  to  be 

(g)  Gal.  vi.  17.  (i)  Acts  xiv.  22.  (Z)  Gen.  xxiii.  3—19 

(h)  Phil.  iii.  20,  21.  (A)  Matt.  xxvi.  10,  12.  (m)  Gen.  xlvii.  30. 


the  meaning  of  the  term  "  resnrrection  ;  "  for  we  never  apply 
this  term  to  any  instance  of  original  creation ;  nor  would  it  be 
consistent  with  that  declaration  of  Christ,  "  Of  all  which  the  Fa- 
ther hath  given  me,  I  shall  lose  nothing,  hut  will  raise  it  up  again 
at  the  last  day."  {n)  The  same  is  implied  in  the  word  "  sleeping," 
which  is  only  applicable  to  the  body.  Hence  the  appellation  of 
cemetery,  or  sleeping-place,  given  to  places  of  burial.  It  remains 
for  me  to  touch  a  little  on  the  manner  of  the  resurrection.  And 
1  shall  but  just  hint  at  it ;  because  Paul,  by  calling  it  a  mystery, 
exhorts  us  to  sobriety,  and  forbids  all  licentiousness  of  subtle 
and  extravagant  speculation.  In  the  first  place,  let  it  be  re- 
membered, as  we  have  observed,\that  we  shall  rise  again  with 
the  same  bodies  we  have  now,  as  to  the  siibstance,  but  that  the 
quality  will  be  different ;  just  as  the  very  body  of  Christ  which 
had  been  offered  as  a  sacrifice  was  raised  again,  but  with  sncTi 
new  and  superior  qualities,  as  though  it  had  been  altogether 
different.  Paul  represents  this  by  some  familiar  examples. 
For  as  the  flesh  of  man  and  of  brutes  is  the  same  in  substance, 
but  not  in  quality  ;  as  the  matter  of  all  the  stars  is  the  same,  but 
they  differ  in  glory  :  so,  though  we  shall  retain  the  substance  of 
our  body,  he  tells  us  there  will  be  a  change,  which  will  render 
its  condition  far  more  excellent,  (o)  The  "corruptible  "  body, 
therefore,  will  neither  perish  nor  vanish,  in  order  to  our  resur- 
rection ;  but  having  laid  aside  corruption,  will  "  put  on  incorrup- 
tion."l(j9)  God,  having  all  the  elements  subject  to  his  control, 
will  find  no  difficulty  in  commanding  the  earth,  the  water,  and  the 
fire,  to  restore  whatever  they  appear  to  have  consumed.  This 
is  declared  in  figurative  language  by  Isaiah  :  "  Behold,  the  Lord 
Cometh  out  of  his  place  to  punish  the  inhabitants  of  the  earth 
for  their  iniquity ;  the  earth  also  shall  disclose  her  blood,  ana 
shall  no  more  cover  her  slain."  (q)  But  we  must  remark  the 
difference  between  those  who  shall  have  been  already  dead,  and 
those  whom  that  day  shall  find  alive,  "  We  shall  not  all  sleep," 
says  Paul,  "but  we  shall  all  be  changed;  "  (r)  that  is,  there 
will  be  no  necessity  for  any  distance  of  time  to  intervene  be- 
tween death  and  the  commencement  of  the  next  life  ;  for  '•  in 
a  moment,  in  the  twinkling  of  an  eye,  the  trumpet  shall  sound, 
and  the  dead  shall  be  raised  incorruptible,"  and  the  living 
transformed  by  a  sudden  change  into  the  same  glory.  So  in 
another  Epistle  he  comforts  believers  who  were  to  die,  that  those 
"  which  are  alive  and  remain  unto  the  coming  of  the  Lord,  siiall 
not  prevent  them  which  are  asleep,"  but  that  "  the  dead  in 
Christ  shall  rise  first,"  (s)  If  it  be  objected  that  the  apostle 
Bays,  "  It  is  appointed  unto  men  once  to  die,"  (t)  the  answer  is 

(n)  John  vi.  39,  40.  (r/)  Isaiah  xxvi.  21.  (s)  1  Thess.  iv.  15,  16. 

(o)  1  Cor.  XV.  39—41.  (r)  1  Cor.  xv.  51,  52.  {t)  Heb.  ix.  27. 

(p)  1  Cor.  XV.  53. 

214  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    li    , 

easy,  —  that  where  the  state  of  the  nature  is  changed,  it  is  a 
species  of  death,  and  may  without  impropriety  be  so  called  • 
and  therefore  there  is  a  perfect  consistence  between  these 
things,  that  all  will  be  removed  by  death  when  they  put  off 
the  mortal  body,  but  that  a  separation  of  the  body  and  soul 
will  not  be  necessary,  where  there  will  be  an  instantaneous 

IX.  But  here  arises  a  question  of  greater  difficulty.  How 
can  the  resurrection,  which  is  a  peculiar  benefit  of  Christ,  be 
common  to  the  impious  and  the  subjects  of  the  Divine  curse  ? 
We  know  that  in  Adam  all  were  sentenced  to  death  ;  (u)  Christ 
comes  as  "the  resurrection  and  the  life  ;  "  (.r)  but  was  it  to 
bestow  life  promiscuously  on  all  mankind  ?  But  what  would 
be  more  improbable,  than  that  they  should  attain,  in  their  ob- 
stinate blindness,  what  the  pious  worshippers  of  God  recover 
by  faith  alone  ?  Yet  it  remains  certain,  that  one  will  be  a  re- 
surrection to  judgment,  the  other  to  life  ;  and  that  Christ  v/ill 
come  to  "separate  the  sheep  from  the  goats."  (y)  I  reply,  we 
ought  not  to  think  that  so  very  strange,  which  we  see  exem- 
plified in  our  daily  experience.  We  know  that  in  Adam  we 
lost  the  inheritance  of  the  whole  world,  and  have  no  more 
right  to  the  enjoyment  of  common  aliments,  than  to  the  fruit 
of  the  tree  of  life.  How  is  it,  then,  that  God  not  only  "  maketh 
his  sun  to  rise  on  the  evil  and  on  the  good,"  (z)  but  that,  for 
the  accommodations  of  the  present  life,  his  inestimable  liberality 
is  diffused  in  the  most  copious  abundance  ?  Hence  we  see, 
that  things  which  properly  belong  to  Christ  and  his  members, 
are  also  extended  to  the  impious ;  not  to  become  their  legiti- 
mate possession,  but  to  render  them  more  inexcusable.  Thus 
impious  men  frequently  experience  God's  beneficence  in  re- 
markable instances,  which  sometimes  exceed  all  the  blessings 
of  the  pious,  but  which,  nevertheless,  are  the  means  of  aggra- 
vating their  condemnation.  If  it  be  objected,  that  the  resur- 
rection is  improperly  compared  with  fleeting  and  terrestrial 
advantages,  I  reply  again,  that  when  men  Avere  first  alienated 
from  God,  the  Fountain  of  life,  they  deserved  the  ruin  of  the 
devil,  to  be  altogether  destroyed;  yet  the  wonderful  counsel  of 
God  devised  a  middle  state,  that  without  life  they  might  live 
in  death.  It  ought  not  to  be  thought  more  unreasonable,  if  the 
impious  are  raised  from  the  dead,  in  order  to  be  dragged  to  the 
tribunal  of  Christ,  whom  they  noAv  refuse  to  hear  as  their  Mas- 
ter and  Teacher.  For  it  would  be  a  slight  punishment  to  be 
destroyed  by  death,  if  they  were  not  to  be  brought  before  the 
Judge  whose  infinite  and  endless  vengeance  they  have  in- 
curred, to  receive  the  punishments  due  to  their  rebellion.     But 

(m)  Rom.  V.  12.  (x)  John  xi.  25.  (ij)  Matt.  xxv.  32  (z)  Matt.  v.  45 


though  we  must  maintaiu  what  we  have  asserted,  and  what 
is  asserted  by  Paul  in  his  celebrated  confession  before  FeUx, 
'•  that  there  shall  be  a  resurrection  of  the  dead,  both  of  the  just 
and  unjust,"  (a.)  yet  the  Scripture  more  commonly  exhibits  the 
resurrection  to  the  children  of  God  alone,  in  connection  with  the 
glory  of  heaven  ;  because,  strictly  speaking,  Christ  will  come, 
not  for  the  destruction  of  the  world,  but  for  purposes  of  salva- 
tion. This  is  the  reason  that  the  Creed  mentions  only  the  life 
of  blessedness. 

X.  But,  as  the  prophecy  of  "  death  being  swallowed  up  in 
victory,"  shall  then,  and  not  till  then,  be  fully  accomplished,  — 
let  us  always  reflect  on  eternal  felicity  as  the  end  of  the  resur- 
rection ;  of  the  excellence  of  which,  if  every  thing  were  said 
that  could  be  expressed  by  all  the  tongnes  of  men,  yet  the 
smallest  part  of  it  would  scarcely  be  mentioned.  For  though 
we  are  plainly  informed,  that  the  kingdom  of  God  is  full  of 
light,  joy,  felicity,  and  glory,  yet  all  that  is  mentioned  remains 
far  above  our  comprehension,  and  enveloped,  as  it  were,  in 
enigmatical  obscurity,  till  the  arrival  of  that  day,  when  he  shall 
exhibit  his  glory  to  us  face  to  face.  "  Now  are  we  the  sons  of 
God,  (says  John,)  and  it  doth  not  yet  appear  what  we  shall  be  ; 
but  we  know,  that  when  he  shall  appear,  we  shall  be  like 
him ;  for  we  shall  see  him  as  he  is."  (b)  Wherefore  the 
prophets,  because  they  could  not  describe  that  spiritual  bless- 
edness by  any  terms  expressive  of  its  sublime  nature,  generally 
represented  it  under  corporeal  images.  Yet,  as  any  intimation 
of  that  happiness  must  kindle  in  us  a  fervour  of  desire,  let  us 
chiefly  dwell  on  this  reflection  —  If  God,  as  an  inexhaustible 
fountain,  contains  within  himself  a  plenitude  of  all  blessings, 
nothing  beyond  him  can  ever  be  desired  by  those  who  aspire 
to  the  supreme  good,  and  a  perfection  of  happiness.  This  we 
are  taught  in  various  passages  of  Scripture.  "  Abraham,"  says 
God,  "I  am  thy  exceeding  great  reward."  (c)  With  this 
David  agrees  :  "  The  Lord  is  the  portion  of  mine  inheritance  ; 
the  lines  are  fallen  unto  me  in  pleasant  places."  (rf)  Again: 
"  I  will  behold  thy  face  ;  T  shall  be  satisfied."  (e)  Peter  de- 
clares, that  believers  are  called,  "  that  they  might  be  partakers 
of  the  Divine  nature."  (/)  How  will  this  be  ?  Because  "he 
shall  be  glorified  in  his  saints,  and  admired  in  all  them  that 
believe."  (g)  If  the  Lord  will  make  the  elect  partakers  of  his 
glory,  strength,  and  righteousness,  and  will  even  bestow  him- 
self upon  them  to  be  enjoyed,  and,  what  is  better  than  this,  to 
be  in  some  sense  united  to  them, — let  us  remember,  that  in 
this  favour  every  kind  of  felicity  is  comprised.     And  after  we 

{a)  Acts  xxiv.  15.         (h)  1  John  iii.  2.        (c)  Gen.  xv.  1.        (d)  Psalm  xvi.  .5,  6. 
(e)  Psalm  xvii.  15.  (/)  2  Peter  i,  4.  (g)  2  Thess.  i.  10. 

216  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    III. 

have  made  considerable  progress  in  this  meditation,  we  may- 
still  acknowledge  the  conceptions  of  our  minds  to  be  extremely 
low,  in  comparison  with  the  sublimity  of  this  mystery.  So- 
briety, therefore,  is  the  more  necessary  for  us  on  this  subject, 
lest,  forgetful  of  our  slender  capacity,  we  presumptuously  soar 
to  too  high  an  elevation,  and  are  overwhelmed  with  the  blaze 
of  celestial  glory.  We  perceive,  likewise,  how  we  are  actua- 
ted by  an  inordinate  desire  of  knowing  more  than  is  right ; 
which  gives  rise  to  a  variety  of  questions,  both  frivolous  and 
pernicious.  I  call  those  frivolous,  from  which  no  advantage 
can  possibly  be  derived.  But  those  of  the  second  class  are 
worse,  involving  persons,  who  indulge  them,  in  injurious  spe- 
culations, and  therefore  I  call  them  pernicious.  What  is  taught 
in  the  Scriptures,  we  ought  to  receive  without  any  controversy  ; 
that  as  God,  in  the  various  distribution  of  his  gifts  to  the  saints 
in  this  world,  does  not  equally  enlighten  them  all,  so  in  heaven, 
where  God  will  crown  those  gifts,  there  will  be  an  inequality  in 
the  degrees  of  their  glory.  The  language  of  Paul  is  not  indis- 
criminately applicable  to  all  —  "  Ye  are  our  glory  and  joy  at  our 
Lord's  coming  ;  "  [h)  nor  Christ's  address  to  his  apostles  —  "  Ye 
shall  sit  judging  the  twelve  tribes  of  Israel."  {i)  But  Paul,  who 
knew  that  according  as  God  enriches  the  saints  with  spiritual 
gifts  on  earth,  so  he  adorns  them  with  glory  in  heaven,  doubts 
not  that  there  is  in  reserve  for  him  a  peculiar  crown  in  propor- 
tion to  his  labours.  And  Christ  commends  to  his  apostles  the 
dignity  of  the  office  with  which  they  were  invested,  by  assur- 
ing them  that  the  reward  of  it  was  laid  up  in  heaven,  [k] 
Thus  also  Daniel  :  "  They  that  be  wise,  shall  shine  as  the 
brightness  of  the  firmament ;  and  they  that  turn  many  to  right- 
eousness, as  the  stars,  for  ever  and  ever."  [1)  And  an  atten- 
tive consideration  of  the  Scriptures  will  convince  us,  that  they 
not  only  promise  eternal  life  generally  to  believers,  but  also  a 
special  reward  to  each  individual.  Whence  that  expression  of 
Paul  —  "  The  Lord  reward  him  according  to  his  works."  (?;«,) 
It  is  also  confirmed  by  the  promise  of  Christ  that  his  disciples 
should  receive  a  hundred-fold  more  in  eternal  life,  {n)  In  a 
word,  as  Christ  begins  the  glory  of  his  body  by  a  manifold 
variety  of  gifts  in  this  world,  and  enlarges  it  by  degrees,  in  the 
same  manner  he  will  also  perfect  it  in  heaven. 

XI.  As  all  the  pious  will  receive  this  with  one  consent,  be- 
cause it  is  sufficiently  attested  in  the  word  of  God,  so,  on  the 
other  hand,  dismissing  abstruse  questions,  which  they  know 
to  be  obstructions  to  them,  they  will  not  transgress  the  limits 
prescribed  to  them.     For  myself,  I  not  only  refram  as  an  indi- 

(A)  1  Thess.  ii.  19,  20.  (k)  Matt.  v.  12.  (m)  2  Tim.  iv.  14. 

{t)  Matt.  xis.  29.  (/)  Dan.  xii.  3.  (h)  Matt.  xix.  29. 


vidual  from  the  unnecessary  investigation  of  useless  questions, 
but  think  it  my  duty  to  be  cautious,  lest  I  encourage  the  vanity 
of  others  by  answering  them.  Men,  thirsting  after  useless  know- 
ledge, inquire  what  will  be  the  distance  between  the  prophets 
and  apostles,  and  between  the  apostles  and  martyrs ;  and  how 
many  degrees  of  difference  there  will  be  between  those  who 
have  married  and  those  who  have  lived  and  died  in  celibacy ; 
in  short,  they  leave  not  a  corner  of  heaven  unexplored.  The 
next  object  of  their  inquiry  is,  what  end  will  be  answered  by 
the  restoration  of  the  world  ;  since  the  children  of  God  will 
want  nothing  of  all  its  vast  and  incomparable  abundance,  but 
will  be  like  the  angels  of  God,  whose  freedom  from  all  animal 
necessities  is  the  symbol  of  eternal  blessedness.  I  reply,  there 
will  be  such  great  pleasantness  in  the  very  prospect,  and  such  :tJ[^^^' 
exquisite  sweetness  in  the  mere  knowledge,  without  any  use  '■> 
of  ity  that  this  felicity  will  far  exceed  all  the  accommodations  ' 
afforded  us  hi  the  present  state.  Let  us  suppose  ourselves  placed 
in  some  region  the  most  opulent  in  the  world,  and  furnished 
with  every  pleasure  ;  who  would  not  sometimes  be  prevented 
by  disease  from  making  use  of  the  bounties  of  God  ?  who 
would  not  often  have  his  enjoyment  of  them  interrupted  by  the 
consequences  of  intemperance  ?  Hence  it  follows,  that  calm  and 
serene  enjoyment,  pure  from  every  vice  and  free  from  all  defect, 
although  there  should  be  no  use  of  a  corruptible  life,  is  the  per- 
fection of  hapjfiness.  Others  go  further,  and  inquire,  whether 
dross  and  all  impurities  in  metals  are  not  removed  from  that 
restoration,  and  incompatible  with  such  a  state.  Though  I  in 
some  measure  grant  this,  I  expect,  with  Paul,  a  reparation  of 
all  the  evils  caused  by  sin,  for  which  he  represents  the  creatures  as 
groaning  and  travailing.  They  proceed  further  still,  and  inquire, 
what  better  state  awaits  the  human  race,  when  the  blessing  of 
posterity  shall  no  longer  be  enjoyed.  The  solution  of  this 
question  also  is  easy.  The  splendid  commendations  of  it  in 
the  Scriptures  relate  to  that  progressive  increase,  by  which  God 
is  continually  carrying  forward  the  system  of  nature  to  its  con- 
summation. But  as  the  unwary  are  easily  caught  by  such 
temptations,  and  are  afterwards  drawn  farther  into  the  labyrinth, 
till,  at  length,  every  one  being  pleased  with  his  own  opinion, 
there  is  no  end  to  disputes,  —  the  best  and  shortest  rule  for  our 
conduct,  is  to  content  ourselves  with  "  seeing  through  a  glass 
darkly,"  till  we  shall  ''see  face  to  face."  (o)  For  very  few 
persons  are  concerned  about  the  way  that  leads  to  heaven,  but 
all  are  anxious  to  know,  before  the  time,  what  passes  there. 
Men  in  general  are  slow,  and  reluctant  to  engage  in  the  conflict, 
and  yet  portray  to  themselves  imaginary  triumphs. 

(o)  1  Cor.  liii.  12. 

VOL.  II.  28 


XII.  Now,  as  no  description  can  equal  the  severity  of  the 
Divine  vengeance  on  the  reprobate,  their  anguish  and  torment 
are  figuratively  represented  to  us  under  corporeal  images ;  as, 
darkness,  weeping,  and  gnashing  of  teeth,  unextinguishable  fire, 
a  worm  incessantly  gnawing  the  heart,  (p)  For  there  can  be 
no  doubt  but  that,  by  such  modes  of  expression,  the  Holy  Spirit 
intended  to  confound  all  our  faculties  with  horror ;  as  when  it 
is  said,  that  "  Tophet  is  ordained  of  old;  the  pile  thereof  is  fire 
and  much  wood:  the  breath  of  the  Lord,  like  a  stream  of 
brimstone,  doth  kindle  it."  (q)  As  these  representations 
should  assist  us  in  forming  some  conception  of  the  wretched 
condition  of  the  wicked,  so  they  ought  principally  to  fix  our 
attention  on  the  calamity  of  being  alienated  from  the  presence 
of  God ;  and  in  addition  to  this,  experiencing  such  hostility 
from  the  Divine  majesty  as  to  be  unable  to  escape  from 
its  continual  pursuit.  For,  in  the  first  place,  his  indignation 
is  like  a  most  violent  flame,  which  devours  and  consumes  all 
that  it  touches.  In  the  next  place,  all  the  creatures  so  subserve 
the  execution  of  his  judgment,  that  those  to  whom  the  Lord 
will  thus  manifest  his  wrath,  will  find  the  heaven,  the  earth, 
and  the  sea,  the  animals,  and  all  that  exists,  inflamed,  as  it  were, 
with  dire  indignation  against  them,  and  all  armed  for  their 
destruction.  It  is  no  trivial  threatening,  therefore,  denounced 
by  the  apostle,  that  unbelievers  ''  shall  be  punished  with  ever- 
lasting destruction  from  the  presence  of  the  Lord,  and  from  the 
glory  of  his  power."  (r)  And  when  the  prophets  excite  terror 
by  corporeal  figures,  though  they  advance  nothing  hyperbolical 
for  our  dull  understandings,  yet  they  mingle  preludes  of  the 
future  judgment  with  the  sun,  the  moon,  and  the  whole  fabric 
of  the  world.  Wherefore  miserable  consciences  find  no  repose, 
but  are  harassed  and  agitated  with  a  dreadful  tempest,  feel 
themselves  torn  asunder  by  an  angry  God,  and,  transfixed  and 
penetrated  by  mortal  stings,  are  terrified  at  the  thunderbolts  of 
God,  and  broken  by  the  weight  of  his  hand  ;  so  that  to  sink 
into  any  gulfs  and  abysses  would  be  more  tolerable  than  to 
stand  for  a  moment  in  these  terrors.  How  great  and  severe, 
then,  is  the  punishment,  to  endure  the  never  ceasing  eff"ects  of 
his  wrath !  On  which  subject  there  is  a  memorable  passage 
in  the  ninetieth  psalm ;  that  though  by  his  countenance  he 
scatters  all  mortals,  and  turns  them  to  destruction,  yet  he  en- 
courages his  servants  in  proportion  to  their  timidity  in  this  world, 
to  excite  them,  though  under  the  burden  of  the  cross,  to  press 
forward,  till  he  shall  be  all  in  all. 

(p)  Matt.  iii.  12;  viii.  12;  xxii.  13.     Mark  ix.  43,  44.     Isaiah  Ixvi.  24. 
(g)  Isaiah  xxx.  33.  (r)  2  Tliess.  i.  9. 






Three  parts  of  the  Apostles'  Creed,  respecting  God  the  Creator,  Re- 
deemer, and  Sanctifier,  have  been  explained  in  the  former  books. 
This  last  book  is  an  exposition  of  what  remains,  relating  to  the  Holy 
Catholic  Church,  and  the  Communion  of  Saints. 

The  chapters  contained  in  it  may  be  conveniently  arranged  in  three 
grand  divisions  :  — 

I.  The  Church. 

II.  The  Sacraments. 

III.  Civil  Government. 

The  First  Division,  extending  to  the  end  of  the  thirteenth  chapter, 
contains  many  particulars,  which,  however,  may  all  be  referred  to 
four  principal  heads  :  — 

I  The  marks  of  the  Church,  or  the  criteria  by  which  it  may  be  dis- 
tinguished ;  since  we  must  cultivate  union  with  it — Chap.  I.  II. 

II.    The  government  of  the  church — Chap.  III. — VII. 

1.  The  order  of  government  in  the  church — Chap.  III. 

2.  The  form  practised  by  the  ancient  Christians — Chap.  IV. 

3.  The  nature  of  the  present  ecclesiastical  government  under  tha 

220  ARGUMENT.  [bOOK    IV. 

Papacy — Chap.  V.  The  primacy  of  the  Pope — Chap.  VI.  And 
the  degrees  of  his  advancement  to  this  tyrannical  power — 
Chap.  VII. 

III.  The  power  of  the  church— Chap.  VIII.— XI. 

1.  Relating  to  articles  of  faith, — which  resides  either  in  the  re- 
spective bishops — Chap.  VIII. — or  in  the  church  at  large, 
represented  in  councils — Chap.  IX. 

2.  In  making  laws — Chap.  X. 

3.  In  ecclesiastical  jurisdiction — Chap.  XI. 

IV.  The  discipline  of  the  Church— Chap.  XII.  XIII. 

1.  The  principal  use  of  it — Chap.  XII. 

2.  The  abuse  of  it— Chap.   XIII. 

The  Second  Division,  relating  to  the  sacraments,  contains  three  parts. 

I.  The  sacraments  in  general — Chap.  XIV. 

II.  Each  sacrament  in  particular — Chap.  XV. — XVIII. 

1.  Baptism — Chap.  XV.  Distinct  discussion  of  Psedobaptism — 
Chap.  XVI. 

2.  The  Lord's  Supper — Chap.  XVII. — and  its  profanation — 
Chap.  XVIII. 

III.  The  five  other  ceremonies,  falsely  called  sacraments — Chap.  XIX. 

The  Third  Division  regards  civil  government. 

I.  Thfs  government  in  general. 

II.  Its  respective  branches. 

1.  The  magistrates. 

2.  The  laws. 

3.  The  people. 


THE    TRUE    CHURCH,    AND    THE    NECESSITY     OF     OUR     UNION     WITH 
HER,    BEING    THE    MOTHER    OF    ALL    THE    PIOUS. 

That  by  the  faith  of  the  gospel  Christ  becomes  ours,  and 
we  become  partakers  of  the  salvation  procured  by  him,  and  of 
eternal  happiness,  has  been  explained  in  the  preceding  Book. 
But  as  our  ignorance  and  slothful ness,  and,  I  may  add,  the 
vanity  of  our  minds,  require  external  aids,  in  order  to  the  pro- 
duction of  faith  in  our  hearts,  and  its  increase  and  progressive 
advance  even  to  its  completion,  God  has  provided  such  aids  in 
compassion   to  our  infirmity  ;    and  that  the  preaching  of  the 


gospel  might  be  maintained,  he  has  deposited  this  treasure 
with  the  Church.  He  has  appointed  pastors  and  teachers,  that 
his  people  might  be  taught  by  their  lips  ;  he  has  invested  them 
with  authority  ;  in  short,  he  has  omitted  nothing  that  could 
contribute  to  a  holy  unity  of  faith,  and  to  the  establishment  of 
good  order,  (a)  First  of  all,  he  has  instituted  Sacraments, 
which  we  know  by  experience  to  be  means  of  the  greatest 
utility  for  the  nourishment  and  support  of  our  faith.  For  as, 
during  oar  confinement  in  the  prison  of  onr  flesh,  we  have  not 
yet  attained  to  the  state  of  angels,  God  has,  in  his  wonderful 
providence,  accommodated  himself  to  our  capacity,  by  pre- 
scribing a  way  in  which  we  might  approach  him,  notwithstand- 
ing our  immense  distance  from  him.  Wherefore  the  order  of 
instruction  requires  us  now  to  treat  of  the  Church  and  its  gov- 
ernment, orders,  and  power  ;  secondly,  of  the  Sacraments  ;  and 
lastly,  of  Civil  Government .;  and  at  the  same  time  to  call  off 
the  pious  readers  from  the  abuses  of  the  Papacy,  by  which 
Satan  has  corrupted  every  thing  that  God  had  appointed  to  be 
instrumental  to  our  salvation.  I  shall  begin  with  the  Church, 
in  whose  bosom  it  is  God's  will  that  all  his  children  should  be 
collected,  not  only  to  be  nourished  by  her  assistance  and  minis- 
try during  their  infancy  and  childhood,  but  also  to  be  governed 
by  her  maternal  care,  till  they  attain  a  mature  age,  and  at  length 
reach  the  end  of  their  faith.  For  it  is  not  lawful  to  "  put  asun- 
der "  those  things  "  which  God  hath  joined  together  ;  "  {b)  that 
the  Church  is  the  mother  of  all  those  who  have  him  for  their 
Father ;  and  that  not  only  under  the  law,  but  since  the  coming 
of  Christ  also,  according  to  the  testimony  of  the  apostle,  who 
declares  the  new  and  heavenly  Jerusalem  to  be  "  the  mother 
of  us  all."  (c) 

II.  That  article  of  the  Creed,  in  which  we  profess  to  believe 
THE  Church,  refers  not  only  to  the  visible  Church  of  which  we 
are  now  speaking,  but  likewise  to  all  the  elect  of  God,  inclu- 
ding the  dead  as  well  as  the  living.  The  word  believe  is  used, 
because  it  is  often  impossible  to  discover  any  difference  between 
the  children  of  God  and  the  ungodly  ;  between  his  peculiar 
flock  and  wild  beasts.  The  particle  in,  interpolated  by  many, 
is  not  supported  by  any  probable  reason.  I  confess  that  it  is 
generally  adopted  at  present,  and  is  not  destitute  of  the  suffrage 
of  antiquity,  being  found  in  the  Nicene  Creed,  as  it  is  trans- 
mitted to  us  in  ecclesiastical  history.  Yet  it  is  evident  from 
the  writings  of  the  fathers,  that  it  was  anciently  admitted 
without  controversy  to  say,  "  I  believe  the  Church,"  not  "  in 
the  Church."  For  not  only  is  this  word  not  used  by  Augustine 
and  the  ancient  writer  of  the  work  "  On  the  Exposition  of  the 

(a)  Ephes.  iv.  11—16.  (i)  Mark  x.  9.  (c)  Gal.  iv.  26 

222  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

Creed,"  which  passes  under  the  name  of  Cyprian,  hut  they 
particularly  remark  that  there  would  be  an  impropriety  in  the 
expression,  if  this  preposition  were  inserted  ;  and  they  confirm 
their  opinion  by  no  trivial  reason.  For  we  declare  that  we  be- 
lieve in  God  because  our  mind  depends  upon  him  as  true,  and 
our  confidence  rests  in  him.  But  this  would  not  be  applicable 
to  the  Church,  any  more  than  to  "  the  remission  of  sins,"  or 
the  "resurrection  of  the  body."  Therefore,  though  I  am 
averse  to  contentions  about  words,  yet  I  would  rather  adopt  a 
proper  phraseology  adapted  to  express  the  subject  than  affect 
forms  of  expression  by  which  the  subject  would  be  unnecessa- 
rily involved  in  obscurity.  The  design  of  this  clause  is  to 
teach  us,  that  though  the  devil  moves  every  engine  to  destroy 
the  grace  of  Christ,  and  all  the  enemies  of  God  exert  the  most 
furious  violence  in  the  same  attempt,  yet  his  grace  cannot 
possibly  be  extinguished,  nor  can  his  blood  be  rendered  barren, 
so  as  not  to  produce  some  fruit.  Here  we  must  regard  both 
the  secret  election  of  God,  and  his  internal  vocation ;  because 
he  alone  "  knoweth  them  that  are  his  ;  "  and  keeps  them  en- 
closed under  his  "  seal,"  to  use  the  expression  of  Paul  ;  {d) 
except  that  they  bear  his  impression,  by  which  they  may  be 
distinguished  from  the  reprobate.  But  because  a  small  and 
contemptible  number  is  concealed  among  a  vast  multitude,  and 
a  few  grains  of  wheat  are  covered  with  a  heap  of  chaff,  we 
must  leave  to  God  alone  the  knowledge  of  his  Church  whose 
foundation  is  his  secret  election.  Nor  is  it  sufficient  to  in- 
clude in  our  thoughts  and  minds  the  whole  multitude  of  the 
elect,  unless  we  conceive  of  such  a  unity  of  the  Church,  into 
which  we  know  ourselves  to  be  truly  ingrafted.  For  unless 
we  are  united  with  all  the  other  members  under  Christ  our 
Head,  we  can  have  no  hope  of  the  future  inheritance.  There- 
fore the  Church  is  called  catholic,  or  universal  ;  because  there 
could  not  be  two  or  three  churches,  without  Christ  being  di- 
vided, which  is  impossible.  But  all  the  elect  of  God  are  so 
connected  with  each  other  in  Christ,  that  as  they  depend  upon 
one  head,  so  they  grow  up  together  as  into  one  body,  com- 
pacted together  like  members  of  the  same  body  ;  being  made 
truly  one,  as  living  by  one  faith,  hope,  and  charity,  through  the 
same  Divine  Spirit,  being  called  not  only  to  the  same  inherit- 
ance of  eternal  life,  but  also  to  a  participation  of  one  God  and 
Christ.  Therefore,  though  the  melancholy  desolation  which 
surrounds  us,  seems  to  proclaim  that  there  is  nothing  left  of  the 
Church,  let  us  remember  that  the  death  of  Christ  is  fruitful, 
and  that  God  wonderfully  preserves  his  Church  as  it  were  in 
nidiiig-places ;  according  to  what  he  said  to  Elijah:   "I  have 

{d)  2Tim.  ii.  19. 


reserved  to  myself  seven  thousand  men,  who  have  not  bowed 
the  knee  to  Baal."  (e) 

III.  This  article  of  the  creed,  however,  relates  in  some 
measure  to  the  external  Church,  that  every  one  of  us  may 
maintain  a  brotherly  agreement  with  all  the  children  of  God, 
may  pay  due  deference  to  the  authority  of  the  Church,  and,  in 
a  word,  may  conduct  himself  as  one  of  the  flock.  Therefore 
we  add  the  communion  of  saints  —  a  clause  which,  though 
generally  omitted  by  the  ancients,  ought  not  to  be  neglected, 
because  it  excellently  expresses  the  character  of  the  Church  ; 
as  though  it  had  been  said  that  the  saints  are  united  in  the  fel- 
lowship of  Christ  on  this  condition,  that  whatever  benefits  God 
confers  upon  them,  they  should  mutually  communicate  to  each 
other.  This  destroys  not  the  diversity  of  grace,  for  we  know 
that  the  gifts  of  the  Spirit  are  variously  distributed ;  nor  does 
it  disturb  the  order  of  civil  polity,  which  secures  to  every  indi- 
vidual the  exclusive  enjoyment  of  his  property,  as  it  is  neces- 
sary for  the  preservation  of  the  peace  of  society  that  men 
should  have  peculiar  and  distinct  possessions.  But  the  commu- 
nity asserted  is  such  as  Luke  describes,  that  "the  multitude  of 
them  that  believed  were  of  one  heart  and  of  one  soul;"  (/) 
and  Paul,  when  he  exhorts  the  Ephesians  to  be  "  one  body, 
and  one  spirit,  even  as  they  were  called  in  one  hope."  (g) 
Nor  is  it  possible,  if  they  are  truly  persuaded  that  God  is  a 
common  Father  to  them  all,  and  Christ  their  common  Head, 
but  that,  being  united  in  brotherly  affection,  they  should  mu- 
tually communicate  their  advantages  to  each  other.  Now,  it 
highly  concerns  us  to  know  what  benefit  we  receive  from  this. 
For  we  believe  the  Church,  in  order  to  have  a  certain  assur- 
ance that  we  are  members  of  it.  For  thus  our  salvation  rests 
on  firm  and  solid  foundations,  so  that  it  cannot  fall  into  ruin, 
though  the  whole  fabric  of  the  world  should  be  dissolved. 
First,  it  is  founded  on  the  election  of  God,  and  can  be  liable 
to  no  variation  or  failure,  but  with  the  subversion  of  his  eternal 
providence.  In  the  next  place,  it  is  united  with  the  stability 
of  Christ,  who  will  no  more  suff'er  his  faithful  people  to  be 
severed  from  him,  than  his  members  to  be  torn  in  pieces. 
Besides,  we  are  certain,  as  long  as  we  continue  in  the  bosom 
of  the  Church,  that  we  shall  remain  in  possession  of  the  truth, 
liastly,  we  understand  these  promises  to  belong  to  us :  "  In 
mount  Zion  shall  be  deliverance."  (h)  God  is  in  the  midst  of 
her  ;  she  shall  not  be  moved."  (?)  Such  is  the  effect  of  union 
with  the  Church,  that  it  retains  us  in  the  fellowship  of  God. 
The  very  word  coinmunion  likewise  contains  abundant  conso- 

(e)  Rom.  xi.  4.     1  Kings  xix.  18.  (/)  Acts  iv.  32.  {g)  Ephes.  iv.  4 

(A)  Joel  ii.  32.     Obad.  17.  (i)  Psalm  xlvi.  5. 

224  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

lation  ;  for  while  it  is  certain  that  whatever  the  Lord  confers 
inpon  his  members  and  ours  belong  to  us,  our  hope  is  confirmed 
by  all  the  benefits  which  they  enjoy.  Bat  in  order  to  embrace 
the  unity  of  the  Church  in  this  manner,  it  is  unnecessary,  as 
we  have  observed,  to  see  the  Church  with  our  eyes,  or  feel  it 
with  our  hands  ;  on  the  contrary,  from  its  being  an  object  of 
faith,  we  are  taught  that  it  is  no  less  to  be  considered  as  exist- 
ing, when  it  escapes  our  observation,  than  if  it  were  evident 
to  our  eyes.  Nor  is  our  faith  the  worse,  because  it  acknow- 
ledges the  Church  which  we  do  not  fully  comprehend  ;  for  we 
are  not  commanded  here  to  distinguish  the  reprobate  from  the 
elect,  which  is  not  our  province,  but  that  of  God  alone  ;  we 
are  only  required  to  be  assured  in  our  minds,  that  all  those 
who,  by  the  mercy  of  God  the  Father,  through  the  efficacious 
influence  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  have  attained  to  the  participation 
of  Christ,  are  separated  as  the  peculiar  possession  and  portion 
of  God ;  and  that  being  numbered  among  them,  we  are  parta- 
kers of  such  great  grace. 

IV.  But  as  our  present  design  is  to  treat  of  the  visible 
Church,  we  may  learn  even  from  the  title  of  mother,  how  use- 
ful and  even  necessary  it  is  for  us  to  know  her ;  since  there  is 
no  other  way  of  entrance  into  life,  unless  we  are  conceived  by 
her,  born  of  her,  nourished  at  her  breast,  and  continually  pre- 
served under  her  care  and  government  till  we  are  divested  of 
this  mortal  flesh,  and  "become  like  the  angels."  (k)  For  our 
infirmity  will  not  admit  of  our  dismission  from  her  school ;  we 
must  continue  under  her  instruction  and  discipline  to  the  end 
of  our  lives.  It  is  also  to  be  remarked,  that  out  of  her  bosom 
there  can  be  no  hope  of  remission  of  sins,  or  any  salvation, 
according  to  the  testimony  of  Joel  and  Isaiah  ;  (I)  which  is  con- 
firmed by  Ezekiel,  (m)  when  he  denounces  that  those  whom 
God  excludes  from  the  heavenly  life,  shall  not  be  enrolled 
among  his  people.  So,  on  the  contrary,  those  who  devote 
themselves  to  the  service  of  God,  are  said  to  inscribe  their 
names  among  the  citizens  of  Jerusalem.  For  which  reason  the 
Psalmist  says,  "  Remember  me,  O  Lord,  with  the  favour  that 
thou  bearest  unto  thy  people  :  O  visit  me  with  thy  salvation  ; 
that  I  may  see  the  good  of  thy  chosen ;  that  I  may  rejoice  in 
the  gladness  of  thy  nation ;  that  I  may  glory  with  thine  in- 
heritance." (n)  In  these  words  the  paternal  favour  of  God,  and 
the  peculiar  testimony  of  the  spiritual  life,  are  restricted  to  his 
flock,  to  teach  us  that  it  is  always  fatally  dangerous  to  be 
separated  from  the  Church. 

V.  But  let  us  proceed  to  state  what  belongs  to  this  subject. 

(Ic)  Matt.  xxii.  30.  (m)  Ezek.  xiii.  9. 

{1}  Isaiah  xxxvii.  35.     Joel  ii.  32.  («)  Psalm  cvi.  4,  5. 


Paul  writes,  that  Christ,  "  that  he  might  fill  all  things,  gave 
some  apostles,  and  some  prophets,  and  some  evangelists,  and 
some  pastors  and  teachers  ;  for  the  perfecting  of  the  saints,  for 
the  work  of  the  ministry,  for  the  edifying  of  the  body  of  Christ : 
till  we  all  come  in  the  unity  of  the  faith,  and  of  the  knowledge 
of  the  Son  of  God,  unto  a  perfect  man,  unto  the  measure  of 
the  stature  of  the  fulness  of  Christ."  (o)  We  see  that  though 
God  could  easily  make  his  people  perfect  in  a  single  moment, 
yet  it  was  not  his  will  that  they  should  grow  to  mature  age, 
but  under  the  education  of  the  Church.  We  see  the  means 
expressed  ;  the  preaching  of  the  heavenly  doctrine  is  assigned 
to  the  pastors.  We  see  that  all  arc  placed  under  the  same 
regulation,  in  order  that  they  may  submit  themselves  with 
gentleness  and  docility  of  mind  to  be  governed  by  the  pastors 
who  are  appointed  for  this  purpose.  Isaiah  had  long  before 
descriVd  the  kingdom  of  Christ  by  this  character  :  "  My  Spirit 
that  is  upon  thee,  and  my  words  which  I  have  put  in  thy 
mouth,  shall  not  depart  out  of  thy  mouth,  nor  out  of  the  mouth 
of  thy  seed,  nor  out  of  the  mouth  of  thy  seed's  seed,  from 
henceforth  and  for  ever."(j9)  Hence  it  follows,  that  all  who 
reject  the  spiritual  food  for  their  souls,  which  is  extended  to 
them  by  the  hands  of  the  Church,  deserve  to  perish  with  hun- 
ger and  want.  It  is  God  who  inspires  us  with  faith,  but  it  is 
through  the  instrumentality  of  the  gospel,  according  to  the 
declaration  of  Paul,  "  that  faith  cometh  by  hearing."  (q)  So 
also  the  power  to  save  resides  in  God,  but,  as  the  same  apostle 
testifies  in  another  place,  he  displays  it  in  the  preaching  of  the 
gospel.  With  this  design,  in  former  ages  he  commanded  so- 
lemn assemblies  to  be  held  in  the  sanctuary,  that  the  doctrine 
taught  by  the  mouth  of  the  priest  might  maintain  the  unity  of 
the  faith  ;  and  the  design  of  those  magnificent  titles,  where  the 
temple  is  called  God's  "rest,"  his  "sanctuary,"  and  "dwelling- 
place,"  where  he  is  said  to  "  dwell  between  the  cherubim,"  (r) 
was  no  other  than  to  promote  the  esteem,  love,  reverence,  and 
dignity  of  the  heavenly  doctrine  ;  which  the  view  of  a  mortal 
and  despised  man  would  otherwise  greatly  diminish.  That 
we  may  know,  therefore,  that  we  have  an  inestimable  treasure 
communicated  to  us  from  earthen  vessels,  (s)  God  himself 
comes  forward,  and  as  he  is  the  Author  of  this  arrangement,  so 
he  will  be  acknowledged  as  present  in  his  institution.  There- 
fore, after  having  forbidden  his  people  to  devote  themselves  to 
auguries,  divinations,  magical  arts,  necromancy,  and  other  su- 
perstitions, he  adds,  that  he  will  give  them  what  ought  to  be 
sufficient  for  every  purpose,  namely,  that  he   will  never  leave 

(o)  Ephes.  iv.  10—1.3.  (p)  Isaiah  lix.  21.  (-7)  Rom.  x.  IT. 

(r)  Psalm  c.ixxii.  14  ;    Ixxx.  1.  (s)  2  Cor.  iv.  7. 

VOL.  II.  29 

226  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

them  without  prophets.  Now,  as  he  did  not  refer  his  ancient 
people  to  angels,  but  raised  up  earthly  teachers,  who  truly 
discharged  the  office  of  angels,  so,  in  the  present  day,  he  is 
pleased  to  teach  us  by  the  instrumentality  of  men.  And  as 
formerly  he  was  not  content  with  the  written  law,  but  appoint- 
ed the  priests  as  interpreters,  at  whose  lips  the  people  might 
inquire  its  true  meaning,  so,  in  the  present  day,  he  not  only 
requires  us  to  be  attentive  to  reading,  but  has  appointed  teach- 
ers for  our  assistance.  This  is  attended  with  a  twofold 
advantage.  For  on  the  one  hand,  it  is  a  good  proof  of  our 
obedience  when  we  listen  to  his  ministers,  just  as  if  he  were 
addressing  us  himself;  and  on  the  other,  he  has  provided  for 
our  infirmity,  by  choosing  to  address  us  through  the  medium 
of  human  interpreters,  that  he  may  sweetly  allure  us  to  him, 
rather  than  to  drive  us  away  from  him  by  his  thunders.  And 
the  propriety  of  this  familiar  manner  of  teaching,  is  evident  to 
all  the  pious,  from  the  terror  with  which  the  majesty  of  God 
justly  alarms  them.  Those  who  consider  the  authority  of  the 
doctrine  as  weakened  by  the  meanness  of  the  men  who  are  called 
to  teach  it,  betray  their  ingratitude ;  because  among  so  many 
excellent  gifts  with  which  God  has  adorned  mankind,  it  is  a 
peculiar  privilege,  that  he  deigns  to  consecrate  men's  lips  and 
tongues  to  his  service,  that  his  voice  may  be  heard  in  them. 
Let  us  not  therefore,  on  our  parts,  be  reluctant  to  receive  and 
obey  the  doctrine  of  salvation  proposed  to  us  at  his  express 
command  ;  for  though  the  power  of  God  is  not  confined  to  ex- 
ternal means,  yet  he  has  confined  us  to  the  ordinary  manner 
of  teaching,  the  fanatical  rejecters  of  which  necessarily  involve 
themselves  in  many  fatal  snares.  Many  are  urged  by  pride, 
or  disdain,  or  envy,  to  persuade  themselves  that  they  can  profit 
sufficiently  by  reading  and  meditating  in  private,  and  so  to 
despise  public  assemblies,  and  consider  preaching  as  unneces- 
sary. But  since  they  do  all  in  their  power  to  dissolve  and 
break  asunder  the  bond  of  unity,  which  ought  to  be  preserved 
inviolable,  not  one  of  them  escapes  the  just  punishment  of  this 
impious  breach,  but  they  all  involve  themselves  in  pestilent 
errors  and  pernicious  reveries.  Wherefore,  in  order  that  the 
pure  simplicity  of  faith  may  flourish  among  us,  let  us  not  be 
reluctant  to  use  this  exercise  of  piety,  which  the  Divine  insti- 
tution has  shown  to  be  necessary,  and  which  God  so  repeatedly 
commends  to  us.  There  has  never  been  found,  among  the 
most  extravagant  of  mortals,  one  insolent  enough  to  say  that 
we  ought  to  shut  our  ears  against  God ;  but  the  prophets  and 
pious  teachers,  in  all  ages,  have  had  a  difficult  contest  with 
the  wicked,  whose  arrogance  can  never  submit  to  be  taught 
by  the  lips  and  ministry  of  men.  Now,  this  is  no  other 
than  effacing  the  image  of  God,  which  is  discovered  to  us  in 


the  doctrine.  For  the  faithful  under  the  former  dispensation 
were  directed  to  seek  the  face  of  God  in  the  sanctuary ;  (t)  and 
tliis  is  so  frequently  repeated  in  the  law,  for  no  other  reason, 
but  because  the  doctrine  of  the  law  and  the  exhortations  of  the 
prophets  exhibited  to  them  a  lively  image  of  God  ;  as  Paul 
declares  that  his  preaching  displayed  "  the  glory  of  God  in  the 
face  of  Jesus  Christ."  (v)  And  in  so  much  the  greater  detesta- 
tion ought  we  to  hold  those  apostates,  who  make  it  their  study 
to  cause  divisions  in  churches,  as  if  they  would  drive  away  the 
sheep  from  the  fold,  and  throw  them  into  the  jaws  of  wolves. 
But  let  us  remember  what  we  have  quoted  from  Paul  —  that 
the  Church  can  only  be  edified  by  the  preaching  of  this  word, 
and  that  the  saints  have  no  common  bond  of  union  to  hold 
them  together,  any  longer  than,  while  learning  and  profiting 
with  one  accord,  they  observe  the  order  which  God  has  pre- 
scribed for  the  Church.  It  was  principally  for  this  end,  as  1 
have  already  stated,  that  the  faithful  under  the  law  were  com- 
manded to  resort  to  the  sanctuary;  because  Moses  not  only 
celebrates  it  as  the  residence  of  God,  but  likewise  declares  it  to 
be  the  place  where  God  has  fixed  the  record  of  his  name  ;  (lo) 
which  without  the  doctrine  of  piety,  he  plainly  suggests,  would 
be  of  no  use.  And  it  is  undoubtedly  for  the  same  reason  that 
David  complains,  with  great  bitterness  of  soul,  of  being  pre- 
vented from  access  to  the  tabernacle  by  the  tyrannical  cruelty 
of  his  enemies,  (x)  To  many  persons  perhaps  this  appears  to 
be  a  puerile  lamentation,  because  it  could  be  but  a  very  trivial 
loss,  and  not  a  privation  of  much  satisfaction  to  be  absent  from 
the  court  of  the  temple,  provided  he  were  in  the  possession  of 
other  pleasures.  But  by  this  one  trouble,  anxiety,  and  sorrow, 
he  complains  that  he  is  grieved,  tormented,  and  almost  con- 
sumed ;  because  nothing  is  more  valued  by  believers  than 
this  assistance,  by  which  God  gradually  raises  his  people  from 
one  degree  of  elevation  to  another.  For  it  is  also  to  be  re- 
marked, that  God  always  manifested  himself  to  the  holy  fa- 
thers, in  the  mirror  of  his  doctrine,  in  such  a  manner  that  their 
knowledge  of  him  was  spiritual.  Hence  the  temple  was 
not  only  called  his  face,  but  in  order  to  guard  against  all  su- 
perstition, was  also  designated  as  his  footstool,  [y)  And  this  is 
that  happy  conjunction  in  the  unity  of  the  faith  spoken  of  by 
Paul,  when  all,  from  the  highest  to  the  lowest,  are  aspiring 
towards  the  head.  All  the  temples  which  the  Gentiles  erected 
to  God  with  any  other  design,  were  nothing  but  a  profanation 
of  his  worship  —  a  crime  which,  though  not  to  an  equal  extent, 
was  also  frequently   committed   by  the  Jews.       Stephen   re- 

(f)  Psalm  cv.  4.  (»)  2  Cor.  iv.  6.  (ic)  Exod  xx. 

(z)  Psalm  Ixxxiv.  (y)  Psalm  cxxxii.  7.  xcix.  5. 

228  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    ir. 

preaches  them  for  it  in  the  language  of  Isaiah :  "  The  Most 
High  dwelleth  not  in  temples  made  with  hands  ;  as  saith  the 
prophet,  Heaven  is  my  throne,  and  earth  is  my  footstool,"  (z) 
because  God  alone  sanctifies  temples  by  his  word,  that  they 
may  be  legitimately  used  for  his  worship.  And  if  we  pre- 
sumptuously attempt  any  thing  without  his  command,  the  evil 
beginning  is  immediately  succeeded  by  further  inventions, 
which  multiply  the  mischief  without  end.  Xerxes,  however, 
acted  with  great  indiscretion,  when,  at  the  advice  of  the  magi, 
he  burned  or  demolished  all  the  temples  of  Greece,  from  an 
opinion  of  the  absurdity  that  gods,  to  whom  all  space  ought  to 
be  left  perfectly  free,  should  be  enclosed  within  walls  and 
roofs.  As  if  it  were  not  in  the  power  of  God  to  descend  in  any 
way  to  us,  and  yet  at  the  same  time  not  to  make  any  change 
of  place,  or  to  confine  us  to  earthly  means,  but  rather  to  use 
them  as  vehicles  to  elevate  us  towards  his  celestial  glory, 
which  fills  all  things  with  its  immensity,  as  well  as  transcends 
the  heavens  in  its  sublimity. 

VI.  Now,  as  the  present  age  has  witnessed  a  violent  dispute 
respecting  the  efficacy  of  the  ministry,  some  exaggerating  its 
dignity  beyond  measure,  and  others  contending  that  it  is  a 
criminal  transfer  to  mortal  man  of  what  properly  belongs  to 
the  Holy  Spirit,  to  suppose  that  ministers  and  teachers  penetrate 
the  mind  and  heart,  so  as  to  correct  the  blindness  of  the  one, 
and  the  hardness  of  the  other,  —  we  must  proceed  to  a  decision  of 
this  controversy.  The  arguments  advanced  on  both  sides  may 
be  easily  reconciled  by  a  careful  observation  of  the  passages,  in 
which  God,  the  Author  of  preaching,  connecting  his  Spirit  with 
it,  promises  that  it  shall  be  followed  with  success ;  or  those  in 
which,  separating  himself  from  all  external  aids,  he  attributes 
the  commencement  of  faith,  as  well  as  its  subsequent  progress, 
entirely  and  exclusively  to  himself.  The  office  of  the  second 
Elias,  according  to  Malachi,  was  to  illuminate  the  minds  and  to 
"  turn  the  hearts  of  the  fathers  to  the  children,"  and  the  disobe- 
dient to  the  wisdom  of  the  just,  (a)  Christ  declares  that  he 
sent  his  disciples,  that  they  "  should  bring  forth  fruit  "  (i)  from 
their  labours.  What  that  fruit  was,  is  briefly  defined  by  Peter, 
when  he  says  that  we  are  "born  again,  not  of  corruptible  seed, 
but  of  incorruptible."  (c)  Therefore  Paul  glories  that  he  had 
"  begotten "  the  Corinthians  "  through  the  gospel,"  and  that 
they  were  "  the  seal  of  his  apostleship  ;  "  (d)  and  even  that  he 
was  "  not  a  minister  of  the  letter,"  merely  striking  the  ear  with 
a  vocal  sound,  but  that  the  energy  of  the  Spirit  had  been  given 
to  him  to  render  his  doctrine  efficacious,  (e)     In  the  same  sense, 

(2)  Acts  vii.  48,  49.  (b)  John  xv.  16.  (d)  1  Cor.  iv.  15.  i.x.  2. 

(a)  Mai.  iv.  6.  (c)  1  Peter  i.  23.  (e)  2  Cor.  iii.  6. 


he  affirms,  in  another  Epistle,  that  his  "  gospel  came  not  in  word 
only,  but  also  in  power."  (/)  He  declares  also  to  the  Galatians, 
that  they  "  received  the  Spirit  by  the  hearing  of  faith."  (g)  In 
sliort,  there  are  several  places,  in  which  he  not  only  represents 
himself  as  a  "  labonrer  together  with  God,"  (h)  but  even  attri- 
butes to  himself  the  office  of  communicating  salvation.  He 
certainly  never  advanced  all  these  things,  in  order  to  arrogate  to 
himself  the  least  praise  independent  of  God,  as  he  briefly  states 
ill  other  passages  :  ''  Our  entrance  in  unto  you  was  not  in  vain."(e) 
"  I  labour,  striving  according  to  his  working,  which  worketh  in 
me  mightily."  (k)  "  He  that  wrought  eflectually  in  Peter  to  the 
apostleship  of  the  circumcision,  the  same  was  mighty  in  me 
toward  the  Gentiles."  (Z)  Besides,  it  is  evident,  from  other 
pi  ices,  that  he  leaves  ministers  possessed  of  nothing,  considered 
in  themselves :  "  Neither  is  he  that  planteth  any  thing,  neither 
he  that  watereth ;  but  God  that  giveth  the  increase."  (m) 
Again  :  ''I  laboured  more  abundantly  than  they  all ;  yet  not  I, 
but  the  grace  of  God  which  was  with  me."  (n)  And  it  is  cer- 
tainly necessary  to  bear  in  memory  those  passages,  in  which 
God  ascribes  to  himself  the  illumination  of  the  mind  and  reno- 
vation of  the  heart,  and  thereby  declares  it  to  be  sacrilege  for 
man  to  arrogate  to  himself  any  share  in  either.  Yet  every  one 
who  attends  with  docility  of  mind  to  the  ministers  whom  God 
has  appointed,  will  learn  from  the  beneficial  effect,  that  this 
mode  of  teaching  has  not  in  vain  been  pleasing  to  God,  and 
that  this  yoke  of  modesty  has  not  without  reason  been  imposed 
upon  believers. 

VII.  From  what  has  been  said,  I  conceive  it  must  now  be 
evident  what  judgment  we  ought  to  form  respecting  the  Church, 
which  is  visible  to  our  eyes,  and  falls  under  our  knowledge. 
For  we  have  remarked  that  the  word  Church  is  used  in  the  sa- 
cred Scriptures  in  two  senses.  Sometimes,  when  they  mention 
the  Church,  they  intend  that  which  is  really  such  in  the  sight  of 
God,  into  which  none  are  received  but  those  who  by  adoption  and 
grace  are  the  children  of  God,  and  by  the  sanctification  of  the 
Spirit  are  the  true  members  of  Christ.  And  then  it  comprehends 
not  only  the  saints  at  any  one  time  resident  on  earth,  but  all  the 
elect  who  have  lived  from  the  beginning  of  the  world.  But  the 
word  Church  is  frequently  used  in  the  Scriptures  to  designate  the 
whole  multitude,  dispersed  all  over  the  world,  who  profess  to 
worship  one  God  and  Jesus  Christ,  who  are  initiated  into  his 
faith  by  baptism,  who  testify  their  unity  in  true  doctrine  and 
charity  by  a  participation  of  the  sacred  supper,  who  consent  to 

(/)  1  Thess.  i.  5.  (k)  Col.  i.  29. 

(g)  Gal.  iii.  2.  (I)  Gal.  ii.  8. 

(Ii)  1  Cor.  iii.  9;  xv.  10.  2  Cor.  vi.  1.  (m)  1  Cor.  iii.  7. 

(«)  1  Thess.  ii.  1.  (n)  1  Cor.  xv.  10 

230  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

the  word  of  the  Lord,  and  preserve  the  ministry  which  Christ 
has  instituted  for  the  purpose  of  preaching  it.  In  this  Church 
are  inchided  many  hypocrites,  who  have  nothing  of  Christ  but 
the  name  and  appearance  ;  many  persons  ambitious,  avaricious, 
envious,  slanderous,  and  dissohite  in  their  Uves,  who  are  tole- 
rated for  a  time,  either  because  they  cannot  be  convicted  by  a 
legitimate  process,  or  because  discipline  is  not  always  maintained 
with  sufficient  vigour.  As  it  is  necessary,  therefore,  to  believe 
that  Church,  which  is  invisible  to  us,  and  known  to  God  alone, 
so  this  Church,  which  is  visible  to  men,  we  are  commanded  to 
honour,  and  to  maintain  communion  with  it. 

VIII.  As  far,  therefore,  as  was  important  for  us  to  know  it, 
the  Lord  has  described  it  by  certain  marks  and  characters.  It 
is  the  peculiar  prerogative  of  God  himself  to  "  know  them  that 
are  his,"  (o)  as  we  have  already  stated  from  Paul.  And  to  guard 
against  human  presumption  ever  going  to  such  an  extreme,  the 
experience  of  every  day  teaches  us  how  very  far  his  secret  judg- 
ments transcend  all  our  apprehensions.  For  those  who  seemed 
the  most  abandoned,  and  were  generally  considered  past  all  hope, 
are  recalled  by  his  goodness  into  the  right  way ;  while  some, 
who  seemed  to  stand  better  than  others,  fall  into  perdition. 
•'  According  to  the  secret  predestination  of  God,"  therefore,  as 
Augustine  observes,  "  there  are  many  sheep  without  the  pale 
of  the  Church,  and  many  wolves  within."  For  he  knows  and 
seals  those  who  know  not  either  him  or  themselves.  Of  those 
who  externally  bear  his  seal,  his  eyes  alone  can  discern  who 
are  unfeignedly  holy,  and  will  persevere  to  the  end  ;  which 
is  the  completion  of  salvation.  On  the  other  hand,  as  he  saw 
it  to  be  in  some  measure  requisite  that  we  should  know  who 
ought  to  be  considered  as  his  children,  he  has  in  this  respect 
accommodated  himself  to  our  capacity.  And  as  it  was  not 
necessary  that  on  this  point  we  should  have  an  assurance  of 
faith,  he  has  substituted  in  its  place  a  judgment  of  charity, 
according  to  which  we  ought  to  acknowledge  as  members  of 
the  Church  all  those  who  by  a  confession  of  faith,  an  exemplary 
life,  and  a  participation  of  the  sacraments,  profess  the  same  God 
and  Christ  with  ourselves.  But  the  knowledge  of  the  body 
itself  being  more  necessary  to  our  salvation,  he  has  distin- 
guished it  by  more  clear  and  certain  characters. 

IX.  Hence  the  visible  Church  rises  conspicuous  to  our  view. 
For  wherever  we  find  the  word  of  God  purely  preached  and 
heard,  and  the  sacraments  administered  according  to  the  insti- 
tution of  Christ,  there,  it  is  not  to  be  doubted,  is  a  Church  of 
God  ;  for  his  promise  can  never  deceive  —  "  where  two  or  three 
ore  gathered  together  in  my  name,  there  am  I  in  the  midst  of 

(o)  2  Tim.  ii.  19 


them."  (p)  But,  that  we  may  have  a  clear  understanding  of 
the  whole  of  this  subject,  let  us  proceed  by  the  following  steps: 
That  the  universal  Church  is  the  whole  multitude,  collected 
from  all  nations,  who,  though  dispersed  in  countries  widely 
distant  from  each  other,  nevertheless  consent  to  the  same  truth 
of  Divine  doctrine,  and  are  united  by  the  bond  of  the  same 
religion ;  that  in  this  universal  Church  are  comprehended 
particular  churches,  distributed  according  to  human  necessity 
in  various  towns  and  villages  ;  and  that  each  of  these  respect- 
ively is  justly  distinguished  by  the  name  and  authority  of  a 
chiu:ch  ;  and  that  individuals,  who,  on  a  profession  of  piety,  are 
enrolled  among  Churches  of  the  same  description,  though  they 
are  really  strangers  to  any  particular  Church,  do  nevertheless  in 
some  respect  belong  to  it,  till  they  are  expelled  from  it  by  a 
public  decision.  There  is  some  ditference,  however,  in  the  mode 
of  judging  respecting  private  persons  and  churches.  For  it 
may  happen,  in  the  case  of  persons  whom  we  think  altogether 
unworthy  of  the  society  of  the  pious,  that,  on  account  of  the 
common  consent  of  the  Church,  by  which  they  are  tolerated  in 
the  body  of  Christ,  we  may  be  obliged  to  treat  them  as  brethren, 
and  to  class  them  in  the  number  of  believers.  In  our  private  opin- 
ion we  approve  not  of  such  persons  as  members  of  the  Church, 
but  we  leave  them  the  station  they  hold  among  the  people  of 
God,  till  it  be  taken  away  from  them  by  legitimate  authority. 
But  respecting  the  congregation  itself,  we  must  form  a  different 
judgment.  If  they  possess  and  honour  the  ministry  of  the  word, 
and  the  administration  of  the  sacraments,  they  are,  without 
all  doubt,  entitled  to  be  considered  as  a  Church ;  because  it  is 
certain  that  the  word  and  sacraments  cannot  be  unattended 
with  some  good  effects.  In  this  manner,  we  preserve  the  unity 
of  the  universal  Church,  which  diabolical  spirits  have  always 
been  endeavouring  to  destroy ;  and  at  the  same  time  without 
interfering  with  the  authority  of  those  legitimate  assemblies, 
which  local  convenience  has  distributed  in  different  places. 

X.  We  have  stated  that  the  marks  by  which  the  Church 
is  to  be  distinguished,  are,  the  preaching  of  the  word  and  the 
administration  of  the  sacraments.  For  these  can  nowhere  exist 
without  bringing  forth  fruit,  and  being  prospered  with  the 
blessing  of  God.  I  assert  not  that  wherever  the  word  is 
preached,  the  good  effects  of  it  immediately  appear ;  but  that  it 
is  never  received  so  as  to  obtain  a  permanent  establishment, 
without  displaying  some  efficacy.  However  this  may  be, 
where  the  word  is  heard  with  reverence,  and  the  sacraments 
are  not  neglected,  there  we  discover,  while  that  is  the  case,  an 
appearance  of  the  Church,  which  is  liable  to  no  suspicion  oi 

(p)  Matt,  xviii.  20. 

232  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

uncertainty,  of  which  no  one  can  safely  despise  the  authority, 
or  reject  the  admonitions,  or  resist  the  counsels,  or  slight  the 
censures,  much  less  separate  from  it  and  break  up  its  unity. 
For  so  highly  does  the  Lord  esteem  the  communion  of  his 
Church,  that  he  considers  every  one  as  a  traitor  and  apostate 
from  religion,  who  perversely  withdraws  himself  from  any 
Christian  society  which  preserves  the  true  ministry  of  the  word 
and  sacraments.  He  commends  the  authority  of  the  Church, 
in  such  a  manner  as  to  account  every  violation  of  it  an  infringe- 
ment of  his  own.  For  it  is  not  a  trivial  circumstance,  that  the 
Church  is  called  "  the  house  of  God,  the  pillar  and  ground  of 
truth."  [q)  For  ni  these  words  Paul  signifies  that  in  order  to 
keep  the  truth  of  God  from  being  lost  in  the  world,  the  Church 
is  its  faithful  guardian ;  because  it  has  been  the  will  of  God, 
by  the  ministry  of  the  Church,  to  preserve  the  pure  preaching 
of  his  word,  and  to  manifest  himself  as  our  affectionate  Father, 
while  he  nourishes  us  with  spiritual  food,  and  provides  all 
things  conducive  to  our  salvation.  Nor  is  it  small  praise,  that 
the  Church  is  chosen  and  separated  by  Christ  to  be  his  spouse, 
"not  having  spot  or  wrinkle,"  (r)  to  be  "his  body,  the  fulness 
of  him  that  fiUeth  all  in  all."  (s)  Hence  it  follows,  that  a 
departure  from  the  Church  is  a  renunciation  of  God  and  Christ. 
And  such  a  criminal  dissension  is  so  much  the  more  to  be 
avoided,  because,  while  we  endeavour,  as  far  as  lies  in  our 
power,  to  destroy  the  truth  of  God,  we  deserve  to  be  crushed 
with  the  most  powerful  thunders  of  his  wrath.  Nor  is  it 
possible  to  imagine  a  more  atrocious  crime,  than  that  sacrile- 
gious perfidy,  which  violates  the  conjugal  relation  that  the 
only  begotten  Son  of  God  has  condescended  to  form  with  us. 

XI.  Let  us,  therefore,  diligently  retain  those  characters  im- 
pressed upon  our  minds,  and  estimate  them  according  to  the 
judgment  of  God.  For  there  is  nothing  that  Satan  labours 
more  to  accomplish,  than  to  remove  and  destroy  one  or  both  of 
them  ;  at  one  time  to  efface  and  obliterate  these  marks,  and  so 
to  take  away  all  true  and  genuine  distinction  of  the  Church  ;  at 
mother  to  inspire  us  with  contempt  of  them,  and  so  to  drive 
as  out  of  the  Church  by  an  open  separation.  By  his  subtlety 
it  has  happened,  that  in  some  ages  the  pure  preaching  of  the 
word  has  altogether  disappeared  ;  and  in  the  present  day  he  is 
labouring  with  the  same  malignity  to  overturn  the  ministry  ; 
which,  however,  Christ  has  ordained  in  his  Church,  so  that  if  it 
were  taken  away,  the  edification  of  the  Church  would  be  quite 
at  an  end.  How  dangerous,  then,  how  fatal  is  the  temptation, 
when  it  even  enters  into  the  heart  of  a  man  to  withdraw  him- 
ielf  from  that  congregation,  in  which  he  discovers  those  signs 

iq)  1  Tim.  iii.  15.  (r)  Eph.  v.  27.  (s)  Eph.  i.  23. 


and  characters  which  the  Lord  has  deemed  sufficiently  descrip- 
tive of  his  Church !  We  see,  however,  that  great  caution  re- 
quires to  be  observed  on  both  sides.  For,  to  prevent  imposture 
from  deceiving  us,  under  the  name  of  the  Church,  every  con- 
gregation assuming  this  name  should  be  brought  to  that  proof, 
hke  gold  to  the  touchstone.  If  it  have  the  order  prescribed  by 
the  Lord  in  the  word  and  sacraments,  it  will  not  deceive  us  ; 
we  may  securely  render  to  it  the  honour  due  to  all  churches. 
On  the  contrary,  if  it  pretend  to  the  name  of  a  Church,  with- 
out the  word  and  sacraments,  we  ought  to  beware  of  such  de- 
lusive pretensions,  with  as  much  caution  as,  in  the  other  case, 
we  should  use  in  avoiding  presumption  and  pride. 

XII.  When  we  affirm  the  pure  ministry  of  the  word,  and 
pure  order  in  the  celebration  of  the  sacraments,  to  be  a  suffi- 
cient pledge  and  earnest,  that  we  may  safely  embrace  the  soci- 
ety in  which  both  these  are  found,  as  a  true  Church,  we  carry 
the  observation  to  this  point,  that  such  a  society  should  never 
be  rejected  as  long  as  it  continues  in  those  things,  although  in 
other  respects  it  may  be  chargeable  with  many  faults.  It  is 
possible,  moreover,  that  some  fault  may  insinuate  itself  into  the 
preaching  of  the  doctrine,  or  the  administration  of  the  sacra- 
ments, which  ought  not  to  alienate  us  from  its  communion. 
For  all  the  articles  of  true  doctrine  are  not  of  the  same  de- 
scription. Some  are  so  necessary  to  be  known,  that  they 
ought  to  be  universally  received  as  fixed  and  indubitable  prin- 
ciples, as  the  peculiar  maxims  of  religion  ;  such  as,  that  there  is 
one  God ;  that  Christ  is  God  and  the  Son  of  God  ;  that  our 
salvation  depends  on  the  mercy  of  God ;  and  the  like.  There 
are  others,  which  are  controverted  among  the  churches,  yet 
without  destroying  the  unity  of  the  faith.  For  why  should 
there  be  a  division  on  this  point,  if  one  church  be  of 
opinion,  that  souls,  at  their  departure  from  their  bodies,  are 
immediately  removed  to  heaven  ;  and  another  church  venture 
to  determine  nothing  respecting  their  local  situation,  but  be 
nevertheless  firmly  convinced,  that  they  live  to  the  Lord  ;  and 
if  this  diversity  of  sentiment  on  both  sides  be  free  from  all 
fondness  for  contention  and  obstinacy  of  assertion  }  The  lan- 
guage of  the  apostle  is,  "  Let  us  therefore,  as  many  as  be  per- 
fect, be  thus  minded  ;  and  if  in  any  thing  ye  be  otherwise  minded, 
God  shall  reveal  even  this  unto  you."  [t)  Does  not  this  suffi- 
ciently show,  that  a  diversity  of  opinion  respecting  these  non- 
essential points  ought  not  to  be  a  cause  of  discord  among 
Christians  ?  It  is  of  importance,  indeed,  that  we  should  agree 
in  every  thing ;  but  as  there  is  no  person  who  is  not  enveloped 
with  some   cloud  of  ignorance,  either   we  must  allow  of  no 

(<)  Phil.  iii.  15. 

VOL.  II.  30 

234  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

church  at  all,  or  we  must  forgive  mistakes  in  those  things,  of 
which  persons  may  be  ignorant,  without  violating  the  essence 
of  religion,  or  incurring  the  loss  of  salvation.  Here  I  would 
not  be  understood  to  plead  for  any  errors,  even  the  smallest,  or 
to  recommend  their  being  encouraged  by  connivance  or  flat- 
tery. But  I  maintain,  that  we  ought  not,  on  account  of  every 
trivial  difference  of  sentiment,  to  abandon  the  Church,  which 
retains  the  saving  and  pure  doctrine  that  insures  the  preserva- 
tion of  piety,  and  supports  the  use  of  the  sacraments  instituted 
by  our  Lord.  In  the  mean  time,  if  we  endeavour  to  correct 
what  we  disapprove,  we  are  acting  in  this  case  according  to  our 
duty.  And  to  this  we  are  encouraged  by  the  direction  of  Paul : 
"  If  any  thing  be  revealed  to  another  that  sitteth  by,  let  the 
first  hold  his  peace."  (v)  From  which  it  appears,  that  every 
member  of  the  Church  is  required  to  exert  himself  for  the 
general  edification,  according  to  the  measure  of  his  grace,  pro- 
vided he  do  it  decently  and  in  order ;  that  is  to  say,  that  we 
should  neither  forsake  the  communion  of  the  Church,  nor,  by 
continuing  in  it,  disturb  its  peace  and  well  regulated  discipline. 
XIII.  But  in  bearing  with  imperfections  of  life,  we  ought 
to  carry  our  indulgence  a  great  deal  further.  For  this  is  a 
point  in  which  we  are  very  liable  to  err,  and  here  Satan  lies  in 
wait  to  deceive  us  with  no  common  devices.  For  there  have 
always  been  persons,  who,  from  a  false  notion  of  perfect  sanc- 
tity, as  if  they  were  already  become  disembodied  spirits,  de- 
spised the  society  of  all  men  in  whom  they  could  discover  any 
remains  of  human  infirmity.  Such,  in  ancient  times,  were  the 
Cathari,  and  also  the  Donatists,  who  approached  to  the  same 
folly.  Such,  in  the  present  day,  are  some  of  the  Anabaptists, 
who  would  be  thought  to  have  made  advances  in  piety  beyond 
all  others.  There  are  others  who  err,  more  from  an  incon- 
siderate zeal  for  righteousness,  than  from  this  unreasonable 
pride.  For  when  they  perceive,  that  among  those  to  whom 
the  gospel  is  preached,  its  doctrine  is  not  followed  by  corre- 
spondent effects  in  the  life,  they  immediately  pronounce,  that 
there  no  church  exists.  This  is,  indeed,  a  very  just  ground  of 
offence,  and  one  for  which  we  furnish  more  than  sufficient 
occasion  in  the  present  unhappy  age ;  nor  is  it  possible  to  ex- 
cuse our  abominable  inactivity,  which  the  Lord  will  not  suffer 
to  escape  with  impunity,  and  which  he  has  already  begun  to 
chastise  with  heavy  scourges.  Woe  to  us,  therefore,  who,  by 
the  dissolute  licentiousness  of  our  crimes,  cause  weak  con- 
sciences to  be  wounded  on  our  account!  But,  on  the  other 
hand,  the  error  of  the  persons  of  whom  we  now  speak,  consists 
in  not  knowing  how  to  fix  any  limits  to  their  offence.     For 

(v)  1  Cor.  xiv.  30. 


where  our  Lord  requires  the  exercise  of  mercy,  they  entirely 
neglect  it,  and  indulge  themselves  in  immoderate  severity. 
Supposing  it  impossible  for  the  Church  to  exist,  where  there  is 
not  a  perfect  purity  and  integrity  of  life,  through  a  hatred  of 
crimes  they  depart  from  the  true  Church,  while  they  imagine 
themselves  to  be  only  withdrawing  from  the  factions  of  the 
wicked.  They  allege,  that  the  Church  of  Christ  is  holy. 
But  that  they  may  also  understand,  that  it  is  composed  of  good 
and  bad  men  mingled  together,  let  them  hear  that  parable  from 
the  lips  of  Christ,  where  it  is  compared  to  a  net,  in  which 
fishes  of  all  kinds  are  collected,  and  no  separation  is  made  till 
they  are  exposed  on  the  shore,  (w)  Let  them  hear  another 
parable,  comparing  the  Church  to  a  field,  which,  after  having 
been  sown  with  good  seed,  is,  by  the  craft  of  an  enemy,  cor- 
rupted with  tares,  from  which  it  is  never  cleared  till  the  har- 
vest is  brought  into  the  barn,  (x)  Lastly,  let  them  hear  an- 
other comparison  of  the  Church  to  a  threshing-floor,  in  which 
the  wheat  is  collected  in  such  a  manner,  that  it  lies  concealed 
under  the  chaff,  till,  after  being  carefully  purged,  by  winnow- 
ing and  sifting,  it  is  at  length  laid  up  in  the  garner,  (y)  But 
if  our  Lord  declares,  that  the  Church  is  to  labour  under  this 
evil,  and  to  be  encumbered  with  a  mixture  of  wicked  men, 
even  till  the  day  of  judgment,  it  is  vain  to  seek  for  a  Church 
free  from  every  spot. 

XIV.  But  they  exclaim,  that  it  is  an  mtolerable  thing  that 
the  pestilence  of  crimes  so  generally  prevails.  I  grant  it  would 
be  happy  if  the  fact  were  otherwise  ;  but  in  reply,  I  would 
present  them  with  the  judgment  of  the  apostle.  Among  the 
Corinthians,  more  than  a  few  had  gone  astray,  and  the  infec- 
tion had  seized  almost  the  whole  society ;  there  was  not  only 
one  species  of  sin,  but  many ;  and  they  were  not  trivial  faults, 
but  dreadful  crimes  ;  and  there  was  not  only  a  corruption  of 
morals,  but  also  of  doctrine.  In  this  case,  what  is  the  conduct 
of  the  holy  apostle,  the  organ  of  the  heavenly  Spirit,  by  whose 
testimony  the  Church  stands  or  falls  ?  Does  he  seek  to  sepa- 
rate from  them  ?  Does  he  reject  them  from  the  kingdom  of 
Christ  ?  Does  he  strike  them  with  the  thunderbolt  of  the 
severest  anathema?  He  not  only  does  none  of  these  things, 
but,  on  the  contrary,  acknowledges  and  speaks  of  them  as  a 
Church  of  Christ  and  a  society  of  saints.  If  there  remained  a 
church  among  the  Corinthians,  where  contentions,  factions, 
and  emulations  were  raging ;  where  cupidity,  disputes,  and 
litigations  were  prevailing  ;  where  a  crime  held  in  execration 
even  among  the  Gentiles,  was  publicly  sanctioned;  where  the 
name  of  Paul,  whom  they  ought  to  have  revered  as  their  fa- 

(w)  Matt.  xiii.  47.  (2)  Matt.  xiii.  24.  (y)  Matt.  iii.  12 

236  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK  IV. 

ther,  was  insolently  defamed  ;  where  some  ridiculed  the  doc- 
trine of  the  resurrection,  with  the  subversion  of  which  the 
whole  gospel  would  be  annihilated  ;  where  the  graces  of  God 
were  made  subservient  to  ambition,  instead  of  charity  ;  where 
many  things  were  conducted  without  decency  and  order ;  (z) 
and  if  there  still  remained  a  Church,  because  the  ministry  of 
the  word  and  sacraments  was  not  rejected  —  who  can  refuse 
the  name  of  a  Church  to  those  who  cannot  be  charged  with  a 
tenth  part  of  those  crimes  ?  And  those  who  display  such  vio- 
lence and  severity  against  the  Churches  of  the  present  age,  I 
ask,  how  would  they  have  conducted  themselves  towards  the 
Galatians,  who  almost  entirely  deserted  the  gospel,  but  among 
whom,  nevertheless,  the  same  apostle  found  Churches  ?  (a) 

XY.  They  object  that  Paul  bitterly  reproves  the  Corinthians 
for  admitting  an  atrocious  oifender  into  their  company,  and 
follows  this  reproof  with  a  general  declaration,  that  with  a 
man  of  scandalous  life  it  is  not  lawful  even  to  eat.  (6)  Here 
they  exclaim,  If  it  be  not  lawful  to  eat  common  bread  with  him, 
how  can  it  be  lawful  to  unite  with  him  in  eating  the  bread  of 
the  Lord  ?  I  confess  it  is  a  great  disgrace,  if  persons  of  im- 
moral lives  occupy  places  among  the  children  of  God ;  and  if 
the  sacred  body  of  Christ  be  prostituted  to  them,  the  disgrace  is 
vastly  increased.  And,  indeed,  if  Churches  be  well  regulated, 
they  will  not  suffer  persons  of  abandoned  characters  among 
them,  nor  will  they  promiscuously  admit  the  worthy  and  the 
unworthy  to  that  sacred  supper.  But  because  the  pastors  are 
not  always  so  diligent  in  watching  over  them,  and  sometimes 
exercise  more  indulgence  than  they  ought,  or  are  prevented 
from  exerting  the  severity  they  would  wish,  it  happens  that 
even  those  who  are  openly  wicked  are  not  always  expelled 
from  the  society  of  the  saints.  This  I  acknowledge  to  be  a 
fault,  nor  have  I  any  inclination  to  extenuate  it,  since  Paul 
sharply  reproves  it  in  the  Corinthians.  But  though  the  Church 
may  be  deficient  in  its  duty,  it  does  not  therefore  follow  that  it 
is  the  place  of  every  individual  to  pass  judgment  of  separation 
for  himself.  I  admit  that  it  is  the  duty  of  a  pious  man  to  with- 
draw himself  from  all  private  intimacy  with  the  wicked,  and 
not  to  involve  himself  ni  any  voluntary  connection  with  them. 
But  it  is  one  thing  to  avoid  familiar  intercourse  with  the 
wicked  ;  and  another  thing,  from  hatred  of  them,  to  renounce 
the  communion  of  the  Church.  And  persons  who  deem  it 
sacrilege  to  participate  with  them  the  bread  of  the  Lord,  are  in 
this  respect  far  more  rigid  than  Paul.  For  when  he  exhorts  us 
to  a  pure  and  holy  participation  of  it,  he  requires  not  one  to 

(z)  1  Cor.  i.  11  ;  iii.  3;  v.  1 ;  vi.  7 ;  ix.  1 ;  xiv.  2G,  40;  xv.  12. 
(a)  Gal.  i.  6;  iii.  1;  iv.  11.  (i)  1  Cor.  v.  2, 11, 12. 


examine  another,  or  every  one  to  examine  the  whole  Church, 
but  each  individual  to  prove  himself.  If  it  were  unlawful  to 
communicate  with  an  unworthy  person,  Paul  would  certainly 
have  enjoined  us  to  look  around  us,  to  see  whether  there  were 
not  some  one  in  the  multitude  by  Avhose  impurity  we  might  be 
contaminated.  But  as  he  only  requires  every  one  to  examine 
himself,  he  shows  that  it  is  not  the  least  injury  to  us  if  some 
unworthy  persons  intrude  themselves  with  us.  And  this  is 
fully  implied  in  what  he  afterwards  subjoins  :  "  He  that  eateth 
and  drinketh  unworthily,  eateth  and  drinketh  judgment  to 
himself."  (c)  He  says,  not  to  others,  but  to  himself,  and  with 
sufficient  reason.  For  it  ought  not  to  be  left  to  the  judgment 
of  every  individual  loho  ought  to  be  admitted  into  the  Church, 
and  ivho  ought  to  be  expelled  from  it.  This  authority  belongs 
to  the  whole  Church,  and  cannot  be  exercised  without  legitimate 
order,  as  will  be  stated  more  at  large  hereafter.  It  would  be 
unjust,  therefore,  that  any  individual  should  be  contaminated 
with  the  unworthiness  of  another,  whose  approach  it  is  neither 
in  his  power  nor  his  duty  to  prevent. 

XVI.  But  though  this  temptation  sometimes  arises  even  to 
good  men,  from  an  inconsiderate  zeal  for  righteousness,  yet  we 
shall  generally  find  that  excessive  severity  is  more  owing  to 
pride  and  haughtiness,  and  a  false  opinion  which  persons  enter- 
tain of  their  own  superior  sanctity,  than  to  true  holiness,  and  a 
real  concern  for  its  interests.  Those,  therefore,  who  are  most 
daring  in  promoting  a  separation  from  the  Church,  and  act,  as 
it  were,  as  standard-bearers  in  the  revolt,  have  in  general  no 
other  motive  than  to  make  an  ostentatious  display  of  their  own 
superior  excellence,  and  their  contempt  of  all  others.  Augustine 
correctly  and  judiciously  observes  —  "  Whereas  the  pious  mle 
and  method  of  ecclesiastical  discipline  ought  principally  to  regard 
the  unity  of  the  Spirit  in  the  bond  of  peace,  which  the  apostle 
enjoined  to  be  preserved  by  mutual  forbearance,  and  which  not 
being  preserved,  the  medicinal  punishment  is  evinced  to  be  not 
only  superfluous,  but  even  pernicious,  and  therefore  to  be  no 
longer  medicinal ;  those  wicked  children,  who,  not  from  a 
hatred  of  the  iniquities  of  others,  but  from  a  fondness  for  their 
own  contentions,  earnestly  endeavour  to  draw  the  simple  and 
uninformed  multitude  wholly  after  them,  by  entangling  them 
with  boasting  of  their  own  characters,  or  at  least  to  divide  them  ; 
those  persons,  I  say,  inflated  with  pride,  infuriated  with  obsti- 
nacy, insidious  in  the  circulation  of  calumnies,  and  turbulent  in 
raising  seditions,  conceal  themselves  under  the  mask  of  a  rigid  se- 
verity, lest  they  should  be  proved  to  be  destitute  of  the  truth ; 

(c)  1  Cor.  xi.  28,  23. 

238  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

and  those  things  which  in  the  Holy  Scriptures  are  commanded  to 
be  done  with  great  moderation,  and  without  violating  the  sinceri- 
ty of  love,  or  breaking  the  unity  of  peace,  for  the  correction  of 
the  faults  of  our  brethren,  they  pervert  to  the  sacrilege  of  schism, 
and  an  occasion  of  separation  from  the  Church."  To  pious  and 
peaceable  persons  he  gives  this  advice  :  that  they  should  correct 
in  mercy  whatever  they  can  ;  that  what  they  cannot,  they  should 
patiently  bear,  and  affectionately  lament,  till  God  either  reform 
and  correct  it,  or,  at  the  harvest,  root  up  the  tares  and  sift  out 
the  chaff.  All  pious  persons  should  study  to  fortify  themselves 
with  these  counsels,  lest,  while  they  consider  themselves  as 
valiant  and  strenuous  defenders  of  righteousness,  they  depart 
from  the  kingdom  of  heaven,  which  is  the  only  kingdom  of 
righteousness.  For  since  it  is  the  will  of  God  that  the  com- 
munion of  his  Church  should  be  maintained  in  this  external 
society,  those  who,  from  an  aversion  to  wicked  men,  destroy 
the  token  of  that  society,  enter  on  a  course  in  which  they  are 
in  great  danger  of  falling  from  the  communion  of  saints.  Let 
them  consider,  in  the  first  place,  that  in  a  great  multitude  there 
are  many  who  escape  their  observation,  who,  nevertheless,  are 
truly  holy  and  innocent  in  the  sight  of  God.  Secondly,  let 
them  consider,  that  of  those  who  appear  subject  to  moral  mala- 
dies, there  are  many  who  by  no  means  please  or  flatter  them- 
selves in  their  vices,  but  are  oftentimes  aroused,  Avith  a  serious 
fear  of  God,  to  aspire  to  greater  integrity.  Thirdly,  let  them 
consider  that  judgment  ought  not  to  be  pronounced  upon  a  man 
from  a  single  act,  since  the  holiest  persons  have  sometimes  most 
grievous  falls.  Fourthly,  let  them  consider,  that  the  ministry 
of  the  word,  and  the  participation  of  the  sacraments,  have 
too  much  influence  in  preserving  the  unity  of  the  Church, 
to  admit  of  its  being  destroyed  by  the  guilt  of  a  few  impious 
men.  Lastly,  let  them  consider,  that  in  forming  an  estimate 
of  the  Church,  the  judgment  of  God  is  of  more  weight  than 
that  of  man. 

XV IL  When  they  allege  that  there  must  be  some  reason 
why  the  Church  is  said  to  be  holy,  it  is  necessary  to  examine 
the  holiness  in  which  it  excels  ;  lest  by  refusing  to  admit  the 
existence  of  a  Church  without  absolute  and  sinless  perfection, 
we  should  leave  no  Church  in  the  world.  It  is  true,  that,  as 
Paul  tells  us,  "  Christ  loved  the  Church,  and  gave  himself  for 
it,  that  he  might  sanctify  and  cleanse  it,  by  the  washing  of  water 
by  the  word,  that  he  might  present  it  to  himself  a  glorious 
Church,  not  having  spot,  or  wrinkle,  or  any  such  thing."  {d)  It 
is  nevertheless  equally  true,  that  the  Lord  works  from  day  to 
day  in  smoothing  its  wrinkles,  and  purging  away  its  spots ; 

{d)  Ephe8.  V.  25—27. 


whence  it  follows,  that  its  holiness  is  not  yet  perfect.  The 
Church,  therefore,  is  so  far  holy,  that  it  is  daily  improving, 
but  has  not  yet  arrived  at  perfection  ;  that  it  is  daily  ad- 
vancing, but  has  not  yet  reached  the  mark  of  holiness ;  as  in 
another  part  of  this  work  will  be  more  fully  explained.  The 
predictions  of  the  prophets,  therefore,  that  "Jerusalem  shall 
be  holy,  and  there  shall  no  strangers  pass  through  her  any 
more,"  and  that  the  way  of  God  shall  be  a  "  way  of  holi- 
ness, over  which  "  the  unclean  shall  not  pass,"  (e)  are  not 
to  be  understood  as  if  there  were  no  blemish  remaining  in 
any  of  the  members  of  the  Church  ;  but  because  they  aspire 
with  all  their  souls  towards  perfect  holiness  and  purity,  the 
goodness  of  God  attributes  to  them  that  sanctity  to  which  they 
have  not  yet  fully  attained.  And  though  such  evidences  of 
sanctification  are  oftentimes  rarely  to  be  found  among  men,  yet 
it  must  be  maintained,  that,  from  the  foundation  of  the  world, 
there  has  never  been  a  period  in  which  God  had  not  his  Church 
in  it ;  and  that,  to  the  consummation  of  all  things,  there  never 
will  be  a  time  in  which  he  will  not  have  his  Church.  For 
although,  in  the  very  beginning  of  time,  the  whole  human  race 
was  corrupted  and  defiled  by  the  sin  of  Adam ;  yet,  from  this 
polluted  mass,  God  always  sanctifies  some  vessels  to  honour,  so 
that  there  is  no  age  which  has  not  experienced-  his  mercy. 
This  he  has  testified  by  certain  promises,  such  as  the  following  : 
"I  have  made  a  covenant  with  my  chosen  :  I  have  sworn  unto 
David,  my  servant,  Thy  seed  will  I  establish  for  ever,  and  build 
up  thy  throne  to  all  generations."  (/)  Again:  "The  Lord 
hath  chosen  Zion  ;  he  hath  desired  it  for  his  habitation.  This 
is  my  rest  for  ever."  (g)  Again  :  "  Thus  saith  the  Lord,  which 
giveth  the  sun  for  a  light  by  day,  and  the  ordinances  of  the 
moon  and  of  the  stars  for  a  light  by  night :  If  those  ordinances 
depart  from  before  me,  saith  the  Lord,  then  the  seed  of  Israel 
also  shall  cease  from  being  a  nation  before  me  for  ever."  (A) 

XVIII.  Of  this  truth  Christ  himself,  the  apostles,  and  almost 
all  the  prophets,  have  given  us  an  example.  Dreadful  are  those 
descriptions  in  which  Isaiah,  Jeremiah,  Joel,  Habakkuk,  and 
others,  deplore  the  disorders  of  the  Church  of  Jerusalem.  There 
was  such  general  and  extreme  corruption  in  the  people,  in  the 
magistrates,  and  in  the  priests,  that  Isaiah  does  not  hesitate  to 
compare  Jerusalem  to  Sodom  and  Gomorrah.  Religion  was 
partly  despised,  partly  corrupted.  Their  manners  were  gene- 
rally disgraced  by  thefts,  robberies,  treacheries,  murders,  and 
similar  crimes.  Nevertheless,  the  prophets  on  this  account 
neither  raised  themselves  new  churches,  nor  built  new  altars 

fe^  Joel  iii.  17.     Isaiah  xxxv.  8.  (g)  Psalm  cxxxii  13, 14. 

(/)  Psalm  Ixxxix.  3,  4.  (A)  Jer.  xxxi.  35,  36 

240  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV, 

for  the  oblation  of  separate  sacrifices ;  but  whatever  were  the 
characters  of  the  people,  yet  because  they  considered  that 
God  had  deposited  his  word  among  that  nation,  and  instituted 
the  ceremonies  in  which  he  was  there  worshipped,  they  lifted 
lip  pure  hands  to  him  even  in  the  congregation  of  the  impious. 
If  they  had  thought  that  they  contracted  any  contagion  from 
these  services,  surely  they  would  have  suffered  a  hundred  deaths 
rather  than  have  permitted  themselves  to  be  dragged  to  them. 
There  was  nothing  therefore  to  prevent  their  departure  from 
them,  but  the  desire  of  preserving  the  unity  of  the  Church. 
But  if  the  holy  prophets  were  restrained  by  a  sense  of  duty 
from  forsaking  the  Church  on  account  of  the  numerous  and 
enormous  crimes  which  were  practised,  not  by  a  few  individuals, 
but  almost  by  the  whole  nation, —  it  is  extreme  arrogance  in  us, 
if  we  presume  immediately  to  withdraw  from  the  communion 
of  a  Church  where  the  conduct  of  all  the  members  is  not  com- 
patible either  with  our  judgment,  or  even  with  the  Christian 

XIX.  Now,  what  kind  of  an  age  was  that  of  Christ  and  his 
apostles  ?  Yet  the  desperate  impiety  of  the  Pharisees,  and  the 
dissolute  lives  every  where  led  by  the  people,  could  not  prevent 
them  from  using  the  same  sacrifices,  and  assembling  in  the  same 
temple  witb  others,  for  the  public  exercises  of  religion.  How 
did  this  happen,  but  from  a  knowledge  that  the  society  of  the 
wicked  could  not  contaminate  those  who  with  pure  consciences 
united  with  them  in  the  same  solemnities  ?  If  any  one  pay  no 
deference  to  the  prophets  and  apostles,  let  him  at  least  acqui- 
esce in  the  authority  of  Christ.  Cyprian  has  excellently 
remarked,  "  Although  tares,  or  impure  vessels,  are  found  in  the 
Church,  yet  this  is  not  a  reason  why  we  should  withdraw  from 
it.  It  only  behoves  us  to  labour  that  we  may  be  the  wheat,  and 
to  use  our  utmost  endeavours  and  exertions,  that  we  may  be 
vessels  of  gold  or  of  silver.  But  to  break  in  pieces  the  vessels 
of  earth  belongs  to  the  Lord  alone,  to  whom  a  rod  of  iron  is  also 
given.  Nor  let  any  one  arrogate  to  himself  what  is  exclusively 
the  province  of  the  Son  of  God,  by  pretending  to  fan  the  floor, 
clear  away  the  chaff,  and  separate  all  the  tares  by  the  judgment 
of  man.  This  is  proud  obstinacy  and  sacrilegious  presumption, 
originating  in  a  corrupt  frenzy."  Let  these  two  points,  then, 
be  considered  as  decided  ;  first,  that  he  who  voluntarily  deserts 
the  external  communion  of  the  Church  where  the  word  of  God 
is  preached,  and  the  sacraments  are  administered,  is  without 
any  excuse  ;  secondly,  that  the  faults  either  of  few  persons  or 
of  many,  form  no  obstacles  to  a  due  profession  of  our  faith  in 
the  use  of  the  ceremonies  instituted  by  God  ;  because  the  pious 
conscience  is  not  wounded  by  the  unworthiness  of  any  other 
individual,  whether  he  be  a  pastor  or  a  private  person  ;  nor  are 


the  mysteries  less  pure  and  salutary  to  a   holy   and  upright 
man,  because  they  are  received  at  the  same  time  by  the  impure. 

XX.  Their  severity  and  haughtiness  go  to  still  greater 
lengths.  Acknowledging  no  church  but  such  as  is  pure  from 
the  smallest  blemishes,  they  are  even  angry  with  honest  teachers, 
because,  by  exhorting  believers  to  progressive  improvements, 
they  teach  them  to  groan  under  the  burden  of  sins,  and  to  seek 
for  pardon  all  their  lifetime.  For  hereby,  they  pretend,  the 
people  are  drawn  away  from  perfection.  I  confess,  that  in 
urging  men  to  perfection,  we  ought  to  labour  with  unremitting 
ardour  and  diligence ;  but  to  inspire  their  minds  with  a  per- 
suasion that  they  have  already  attained  it,  while  they  are 
yet  in  the  pursuit  of  it,  I  maintain  to  be  a  diabolical  invention. 
Therefore,  in  the  Creed,  the  communion  of  saints  is  imme- 
diately followed  by  the  forgiveness  of  sins,  which  can  only  be 
obtained  by  the  citizens  and  members  of  the  Church,  as  we 
read  in  the  prophet,  (i)  The  heavenly  Jerusalem,  therefore, 
ought  first  to  be  built,  in  which  this  favour  of  God  may  be 
enjoyed,  that  whoever  shall  enter  it,  their  iniquity  shall  be 
blotted  out.  Now,  I  affirm  that  this  ought  first  to  be  built ; 
not  that  there  can  ever  be  any  Church  without  remission  of 
sins,  but  because  God  has  not  promised  to  impart  his  mercy, 
except  in  the  communion  of  saints.  Our  first  entrance,  there- 
fore, into  the  Church  and  kingdom  of  God,  is  the  remission  of 
sins,  without  which  we  have  no  covenant  or  union  with  God. 
For  thus  he  speaks  by  the  prophet :  "In  that  day  will  I  make 
a  covenant  for  them  with  the  beasts  of  the  field,  and  with  the 
fowls  of  heaven,  and  with  the  creeping  things  of  the  ground  ; 
and  I  will  break  the  bow  and  the  sword,  and  the  battle  out  of 
the  earth,  and  will  make  them  to  lie  down  safely.  And  I  will 
betroth  thee  unto  me  for  ever ;  yea,  I  will  betroth  thee  unto  me 
in  righteousness,  and  in  judgment,  and  in  loving-kindness,  and 
in  mercies."  (k)  We  see  how  God  reconciles  us  to  himself  by  his 
mercy.  So  in  another  place,  where  he  foretells  the  restoration 
of  the  people  whom  he  had  scattered  in  his  wrath,  he  says,  "  I 
will  cleanse  them  from  all  their  iniquity,  whereby  they  have 
sinned  against  me."  (/)  Wherefore  it  is  by  the  sign  of  ablution, 
that  we  are  initiated  into  the  society  of  his  Church  ;  by  which 
we  are  taught  that  there  is  no  admittance  for  us  into  the  fa- 
mily of  God,  unless  our  pollution  be  first  taken  away  by  his 

XXI.  Nor  does  God  only  once  receive  and  adopt  us  into  his 
Church  by  the  remission  of  sins  ;  he  likewise  preserves  and 
keeps  us  in  it  by  the  same  mercy.     For  to  what  purpose  would 

(j)  Isaiah  xxxiii.  24.  (k)  Hos.  ii.  18, 19.  (Z)  Jerein.  xxxiii.  8. 

VOL.    II.  31 

242  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

it  be,  if  we  obtained  a  pardon  which  would  afterwards  be  of 
no  use  ?  And  that  the  mercy  of  the  Lord  would  be  vain  and 
dehisive,  if  it  were  only  granted  for  once,  all  pious  persons  can 
testify  to  themselves  ;  for  every  one  of  them  is  all  his  life- 
time conscious  of  many  infirmities,  which  need  the  Divine 
mercy.  And  surely  it  is  not  without  reason,  that  God  particu- 
larly promises  this  grace  to  the  members  of  his  family,  and 
commands  the  same  message  of  reconciliation  to  be  daily  ad- 
dressed to  them.  As  we  carry  about  with  us  the  relics  of  sin, 
therefore,  as  long  as  we  live,  we  shall  scarcely  continue  in  the 
Church  for  a  single  moment,  imless  we  are  sustained  by  the 
constant  grace  of  the  Lord  in  forgiving  our  sins.  But  the  Lord 
has  called  his  people  to  eternal  salvation  ;  they  ought,  therefore, 
to  believe  that  his  grace  is  always  ready  to  pardon  their  sins. 
Wherefore  it  ought  to  be  held  as  a  certain  conclusion,  that 
from  the  Divine  liberality,  by  the  intervention  of  the  merit  of 
Christ,  through  the  sanctification  of  the  Spirit,  pardon  of  sins 
has  been,  and  is  daily,  bestowed  upon  us,  who  have  been  ad- 
mitted and  ingrafted  into  the  body  of  the  Church. 

XXIL  It  was  to  dispense  this  blessing  to  us,  that  the  keys 
were  given  to  the  Church,  {m)  For,  when  Christ  gave  com- 
mandment to  his  apostles,  and  conferred  on  them  the  power 
of  remitting  sins,  {n)  it  was  not  with  an  intention  that  they 
should  merely  absolve  from  their  sins  those  who  were  converted 
from  impiety  to  the  Christian  faith,  but  rather  that  they  should 
continually  exercise  this  office  among  the  faithful.  This  is 
taught  by  Paul,  when  he  says,  that  the  message  of  reconcilia- 
tion was  committed  to  the  ministers  of  the  Church,  that  in  the 
name  of  Christ  they  might  daily  exhort  the  people  to  be  recon- 
ciled to  God.  (o)  In  the  communion  of  saints,  therefore,  sins 
are  continually  remitted  to  us  by  the  ministry  of  the  Church, 
when  the  presbyters  or  bishops,  to  whom  this  office  is  com- 
mitted, confirm  pious  consciences,  by  the  promises  of  the 
gospel,  in  the  hope  of  pardon  and  remission  ;  and  that  as  well 
publicly  as  privately,  according  as  necessity  requires.  For 
there  are  many  persons  who,  on  account  of  their  infirmity, 
stand  in  need  of  separate  and  private  consolation.  And  Paul 
tells  us  that  he  "  taught,"  not  only  publicly,  but  also  "  from 
house  to  house,  testifying  repentance  toward  God,  and  faith 
toward  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  ;  "  {p)  and  admonished  every 
individual  separately  respecting  the  doctrine  of  salvation.  Here 
are  three  things,  therefore,  worthy  of  our  observation.  First, 
that  whatever  holiness  may  distinguish  the  children  of  God, 
yet  such  is  their  condition  as  long  as  they  inhabit  a  mortal 

(to)  Matt.  xvi.  19;  xviii.  18.  (o)  2  Cor.  v.  18—20. 

in)  John  XX.  23.  {ji)  Acts  xx.  20,  21. 

CHAP.    I.]  CHRISTIAN    ilELIGION.  243 

body,  that  they  cannot  stand  before  God  without  remission  of 
sins.  Secondly,  that  this  benefit  belongs  to  the  Church  ;  so 
that  we  canyot  enjoy  it  unless  we  continue  in  its  communion. 
Thirdly,  that  it  is  dispensed  to  us  by  the  ministers  and  pastors 
of  the  Church,  either  in  the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  or  in  the 
administration  of  the  sacraments ;  and  that  tliis  is  the  principal 
exercise  of  the  poAver  of  the  keys,  which  the  Lord  has  con- 
ferred on  the  society  of  believers.  Let  every  one  of  us,  there- 
fore, consider  it  as  his  duty,  not  to  seek  remission  of  sins  any 
where  but  where  the  Lord  has  placed  it.  Of  public  reconcilia- 
tion, which  is  a  branch  of  discipline,  we  shall  speak  in  its 
proper  place. 

XXIII.  But  as  those  fanatic  spirits,  of  whom  I  spoke,  en- 
^deavour  to  rob  the  Church  of  this  sole  anchor  of  salvation,  our 
consciences  ought  to  be  still  more  strongly  fortified  against 
such  a  pestilent  opinion.  The  Novatians  disturbed  the  ancient 
Churches  with  this  tenet;  but  the  present  age  also  has  wit- 
nessed some  of  the  Anabaptists,  who  resemble  the  Novatians 
by  falling  into  the  same  follies.  For  they  imagine  that  by 
baptism  the  people  of  God  are  regenerated  to  a  pure  and  an- 
gelic life,  which  cannot  be  contaminated  by  any  impurities  of 
the  flesh.  And  if  any  one  be  guilty  of  sin  after  baptism,  they 
leave  him  no  prospect  of  escaping  the  inexorable  judgment  of 
God.  In  short,  they  encourage  no  hope  of  pardon  in  any  one 
who  sins  after  having  received  the  grace  of  God ;  because  they 
acknowledge  no  other  remission  of  sins  than  that  by  which  we 
are  first  regenerated.  Now,  though  there  is  no  falsehood  more 
clearly  refuted  in  the  Scripture  than  this,  yet  because  its  advo- 
cates find  persons  to  submit  to  their  impositions,  as  Novatui 
formerly  had  numerous  followers,  let  us  briefly  show  how  very 
pernicious  their  error  is  both  to  themselves  and  to  others.  In 
the  first  place,  when  the  saints  obey  the  command  of  the  Lord 
by  a  daily  repetition  of  this  prayer,  "  forgive  us  our  debts,"  (q) 
they  certainly  confess  themselves  to  be  sinners.  Nor  do  they 
pray  in  vain,  for  our  Lord  has  not  enjoined  the  use  of  any 
petitions,  but  such  as  he  designed  to  grant.  And  after  he 
had  declared  that  the  whole  prayer  would  be  heard  by  the 
Father,  he  confirmed  this  absolution  by  a  special  promise. 
What  do  we  want  more  ?  The  Lord  requires  from  the  saints 
a  confession  of  sins,  and  that  daily  as  long  as  they  live,  and  he 
promises  them  pardon.  What  presumption  is  it  either  to  assert 
that  they  are  exempt  from  sin,  or,  if  they  have  fallen,  to  exclude 
them  from  all  grace  !  To  whom  does  he  enjoin  us  to  grant  for- 
giveness seventy  times  seven  times  ?  Is  it  not  to  our  brethren  ? 
And  what  was  the  design  of  this  injunction,  but  that  we  might 

(q)  Matt.  vi.  12. 

244  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

imitate  his  clemency  ?  He  pardons,  therefore,  not  once  or 
twice,  but  as  often  as  the  sinner  is  alarmed  with  a  sense  of  his 
sins,  and  sighs  for  mercy.  » 

XXIV.  But  to  begin  from  the  infancy  of  the  Church :  the 
patriarchs  had  been  circumcised,  admitted  to  the  privileges  of 
the  covenant,  and  without  doubt  instructed  in  justice  and  in- 
tegrity  by  the  care  of  their  father,  when  they  conspired  to 
murder  their  brother.  This  was  a  crime  to  be  abcmhiated 
even  by  the  most  desperate  and  abandoned  robbers.  At  length, 
softened  by  the  admonitions  of  Judah,  they  sold  him  for  a 
slave.  This  also  was  an  intolerable  cruelty.  Simon  and  Levi, 
in  a  spirit  of  nefarious  revenge,  condemned  even  by  the  judg- 
ment of  their  father,  murdered  the  inhabitants  of  Sichem. 
Reuben  was  guilty  of  execrable  incest  with  his  father's  concu- 
bine. Judah,  with  an  intention  of  indulging  a  libidinous 
passion,  violated  the  law  of  nature  by  a  criminal  connection 
with  his  son's  wife.  Yet  they  are  so  far  from  being  expunged 
out  of  the  number  of  the  chosen  people,  that,  on  the  contrary, 
they  are  constituted  the  heads  of  the  nation,  (r)  What  shall 
we  say  of  David  ?  Though  he  was  the  official  guardian  of 
justice,  how  scandalously  did  he  prepare  the  way  for  the  grati- 
fication of  a  blind  passion,  by  the  effusion  of  innocent  blood  ! 
He  had  already  been  regenerated,  and  among  the  regenerate 
had  been  distinguished  by  the  peculiar  commendations  of  the 
Lord  ;  yet  he  perpetrated  a  crime  even  among  heathens  re- 
garded with  horror,  and  yet  he  obtained  mercy,  (s)  And  not 
to  dwell  any  longer  on  particular  examples,  the  numerous 
promises  which  the  law  and  the  prophets  contain,  of  Divine 
mercy  towards  the  Israelites,  are  so  many  proofs  of  the  mani- 
festation of  God's  placability  to  the  offences  of  his  people.  For 
what  does  Moses  promise  to  the  people  in  case  of  their  return 
to  the  Lord,  after  having  fallen  into  idolatry  ?  "  Then  the 
Lord  thy  God  will  turn  thy  captivity,  and  have  compassion 
upon  thee,  and  will  return  and  gather  thee  from  all  the  nations, 
whither  the  Lord  thy  God  hath  scattered  thee.  If  any  of  thine 
be  driven  out  unto  the  outmost  parts  of  heaven,  from  thence 
will  the  Lord  thy  God  gather  thee."  {t) 

XXV.  But  I  am  unwilling  to  commence  an  enumeration 
which  would  have  no  end.  For  the  prophets  are  full  of  such 
promises,  which  offer  mercy  to  the  people,  though  covered 
with  innumerable  crimes.  What  sin  is  worse  than  rebellion  ? 
It  is  described  as  a  divorce  between  God  and  the  Church  :  yet 
this  is  overcome  by  the  goodness  of  God.  Hear  his  language 
by  the  mouth  of  Jeremiah  :  "  If  a  man  put  away  his  wife,  and 

(r)  Gen.  xxxvii.  18,  28;  xxxiv.  2-5;  xxxv.  22  ;  xxxviii.  IG. 
(s)  2  Sam.  xi.  4,  15;  xii.  13.  (0  Deut.  xxx.  3,  4 


she  go  from  him,  and  become  another  man's,  shall  he  return 
unto  her  again  ?  Shall  not  that  land  be  greatly  polluted  ?  But 
thou  hast  played  the  harlot  with  many  lovers,  and  thou  hast 
polluted  the  land  with  thy  whoredoms  and  with  thy  wicked- 
ness. Yet  return  again  to  me,  thou  backsliding  Israel,  saith 
the  Lord,  and  I  will  not  cause  mine  anger  to  fall  upon  you  ; 
for  I  am  merciful,  saith  the  Lord,  and  will  not  keep  anger  for 
ever."  (v)  And  surely  there  cannot  possibly  be  any  other  dis- 
position in  him  who  affirms,  that  he  "■  hath  no  pleasure  in  the 
death  of  the  wicked,  but  that  the  wicked  turn  from  his  way 
and  live."  (w)  Therefore,  when  Solomon  dedicated  the  temple, 
he  appointed  it  also  for  this  purpose,  that  prayers,  offered  to 
obtain  pardon  of  sins,  might  there  be  heard  and  answered. 
His  words  are,  "  If  they  sin  against  thee,  (for  there  is  no  man 
that  sinneth  not,)  and  thou  be  angry  with  them,  and  deliver 
them  to  the  enemy,  so  that  they  carry  them  away  captives 
unto  the  land  of  the  enemy,  far  or  near ;  yet  if  they  shall  be- 
think themselves,  and  repent  in  the  land  whither  they  were 
carried  captives,  and  repent  and  make  supplication  unto  thee 
in  the  land  of  those  that  carried  them  captives,  saying.  We  have 
sinned,  and  have  done  perversely,  we  have  committed  wicked- 
ness ;  and  pray  unto  thee  toward  the  land  which  thou  gavest 
unto  their  fathers,  the  city  which  thou  hast  chosen,  and  the 
house  which  I  have  built  for  thy  name  ;  then  hear  thou  their 
prayer  and  their  supplication  in  heaven,  and  forgive  thy  people 
that  have  sinned  against  thee,  and  all  their  transgressions 
wherein  they  have  transgressed  against  thee."  (x)  Nor  was  it 
without  cause  that  in  the  law  the  Lord  ordained  daily  sacrifices 
for  sins ;  for  unless  he  had  foreseen  that  his  people  would  be 
subject  to  the  maladies  of  daily  sins,  he  would  never  have  ap- 
pointed these  remedies,  (y) 

XXYI.  Now,  I  ask  whether,  by  the  advent  of  Christ,  in 
whom  the  fulness  of  grace  was  displayed,  believers  have  been 
deprived  of  this  benefit,  so  that  they  can  no  longer  presume  to 
supplicate  for  the  pardon  of  their  sins ;  so  that  if  they  offend 
against  the  Lord,  they  can  obtain  no  mercy.  What  would 
this  be  but  to  affirm,  that  Christ  came  for  the  destruction  of  his 
people,  and  not  for  their  salvation ;  if  the  loving-kindness  of 
God,  in  the  pardon  of  sins,  which  was  continually  ready  to  be 
exercised  to  the  saints  under  the  Old  Testament,  be  maintained 
to  be  now  entirely  withdrawn?  But  if  we  give  any  credit  to 
the  Scriptures,  which  proclaim  that  in  Christ  the  grace  and 
philanthropy  of  God  have  at  length  been  fully  manifested,  that 
his   mercy  has  been  abundantly  diffused,  and  reconciliati-.Ai 

(v)  Jer.  iii.  1,  2,  12.  (x)  1  Kings  viii.  46—50. 

(w)  Ezek.  xxxiii.  11.  (y)  Numb,  xxviii.  3. 

246  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

between  God  and  man  accomplished,  (z)  we  onght  not  to 
doubt  that  the  clemency  of  our  heavenly  Father  is  disjilayed 
to  us  in  greater  abundance,  rather  than  restricted  or  diminished. 
Examples  to  prove  this  are  not  wanting.  Peter,  who  had  been 
warned  that  he  who  would  not  confess  the  name  of  Christ  be- 
fore men  would  be  denied  by  him  befoie  angels,  denied  him 
three  times  in  one  night,  and  accompanied  the  denial  with 
execrations  ;  yet  he  was  not  refused  pardon.  («)  Those  of  the 
Thessalonians  who  led  disorderly  lives,  are  reprehended  by  the 
apostle,  in  order  to  be  invited  to  repentance,  (b)  Nor  does 
Peter  drive  Simon  Magus  himself  to  despair  ;  but  rather  directs 
him  to  cherish  a  favourable  hope,  when  he  persuades  him  to 
pray  for  forgiveness,  (c) 

XXVII.  What  are  we  to  say  of  cases  in  which  the  most 
enormous  sins  have  sometimes  seized  whole  Churches  ?  From 
this  situation  Paul  rather  mercifully  reclaimed  them,  than  aban- 
doned them  to  the  curse.  The  defection  of  the  Galatians  was 
no  trivial  offence,  (d)  The  Corinthians  were  still  less  excusable, 
their  crimes  being  more  numerous  and  equally  enormous,  (e) 
Yet  neither  are  excluded  from  the  mercy  of  the  Lord :  on  the 
contrary,  the  very  persons  who  had  gone  beyond  all  others  in 
impurity,  unchastity,  and  fornication,  are  expressly  invited  to 
repentance.  For  the  covenant  of  the  Lord  will  ever  remain 
eternal  and  inviolable,  which  he  has  made  with  Christ,  the 
antitype  of  Solomon,  and  with  all  his  members,  in  these  words  : 
"  If  his  children  forsake  my  law,  and  walk  not  in  my  judgments  ; 
if  they  break  my  statutes,  and  keep  not  my  commandments ; 
then  will  I  visit  their  transgression  with  the  rod,  and  their  ini- 
quity with  stripes.  Nevertheless  my  loving-kindness  will  I  not 
utterly  take  from  him."  (/)  Finally,  the  order  of  the  Creed 
teaches  us  that  pardon  of  sins  ever  continues  in  the  Church  of 
Christ,  because,  after  having  mentioned  the  Church,  it  imme- 
diately adds  the  forgiveness  of  sins. 

XXVIII.  Some  persons,  who  are  a  little  more  judicious, 
perceiving  the  notion  of  Novatus  to  be  so  explicitly  contradicted 
by  the  Scripture,  do  not  represent  every  sin  as  unpardonable, 
but  only  voluntary  transgression,  into  which  a  person  may 
have  fallen  with  the  full  exercise  of  his  knowledge  and  will. 
These  persons  admit  of  no  pardon  for  any  sins,  but  such  as 
may  have  been  the  mere  errors  of  ignorance.  But  as  the  Lord, 
in  the  law,  commanded  some  sacrifices  to  be  offered  to  expiate 
the  voluntary  sins  of  believers,  and  others  to  atone  for  sins  of 
ignorance,  what  extreme  presumption  is  it  to  deny  that  there 

(:)  2  Tim.  i.  9,  10.     Tit.  ii.  11  ;  iii.  4—7. 
(a)  Matt.  X.  33.     Mark  viii.  38.     Matt.  xxvi.  69,  &c. 
'h)  2  Thess.  iii.  6,  11,  12.  (r)  Acts  viii.  22.  (d)  Gal.  i.  6  ;   iii.  1  ;   iv.  9. 

(_e)  1  Cor.  i.  11,  12;    v.  1.     2  Cor.  xii.  21.  (/)  Psalm  Ixxxix.  30—33. 

CHAP.    1.]  CHRISTIAN    RELIGION.  247 

is  any  pardon  for  voluntary  transgression!  I  maintain,  that 
there  is  nothing  more  evident,  than  that  the  one  sacrifice  of 
Christ  is  available  for  the  remission  of  the  voluntary  sins  of  the 
saints,  since  the  Lord  has  testified  the  same  by  the  legal  vic- 
tims, as  by  so  many  types.  Besides,  who  can  plead  ignorance 
as  an  excuse  for  David,  who  was  evidently  so  well  acquainted 
with  the  law  ?  Did  not  David  know  that  adultery  and  murder 
were  great  crimes,  which  he  daily  punished  in  others  ?  Did 
the  patriarchs  consider  fratricide  as  lawful  ?  Had  the  Corin- 
thians learned  so  little  that  they  could  imagine  impurity,  incon- 
tinence, fornication,  animosities,  and  contentions,  to  be  pleasing 
to  God?  Could  Peter,  who  had  been  so  carefully  warned,  be 
ignorant  how  great  a  crime  it  was  to  abjure  his  Master?  Let 
us  not,  therefore,  by  our  cruelty,  shut  the  gate  of  mercy  which 
God  has  so  liberally  opened. 

XXIX.  I  am  fully  aware  that  the  old  writers  have  explained 
those  sins,  which  are  daily  forgiven  to  believers,  to  be  the 
smaller  faults,  which  are  inadvertently  committed  through  the 
infirmity  of  the  flesh  ;  but  solemn  repentance,  which  was  then 
required  for  greater  offences,  they  thought,  was  no  more  to  be 
repeated  than  baptism.  This  sentiment  is  not  to  be  understood 
as  indicating  their  design,  either  to  drive  into  despair  such  per- 
sons as  had  relapsed  after  their  first  repentance,  or  to  extenuate 
those  errors,  as  if  they  were  small  in  the  sight  of  God.  For  they 
knew  that  the  saints  frequently  stagger  through  unbelief;  that 
they  sometimes  utter  unnecessary  oaths  ;  that  they  occasionally 
swell  into  anger,  and  even  break  out  into  open  reproaches  ;  and 
that  they  are  likewise  chargeable  with  other  faults,  which  the 
Lord  holds  in  the  greatest  abomination.  They  expressed 
themselves  in  this  manner,  to  distinguish  between  private  of- 
fences and  those  public  crimes  which  were  attended  with  great 
scandal  in  the  Church.  But  the  difficulty,  which  they  made, 
of  forgiving  those  who  had  committed  any  thing  deserving  of 
ecclesiastical  censure,  did  not  arise  from  an  opinion  that  it  was 
difficult  for  them  to  obtain  pardon  from  the  Lord  ;  they  only 
intended  by  this  severity  to  deter  others  from  rashly  running 
into  crimes,  which  would  justly  be  followed  by  their  exclusion 
from  the  communion  of  the  Church.  The  word  of  the  Lord, 
however,  which  ought  to  be  our  only  rule  in  this  case,  certainly 
prescribes  greater  moderation.  For  it  teaches,  that  the  rigour 
of  discipline  ought  not  to  be  carried  to  such  an  extent,  as  to 
overwhelm  with  sorrow  the  person  whose  benefit  we  are  re- 
quired to  regard  as  its  principal  object ;  as  we  have  before 
shown  more  at  large. 

248  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 



We  have  already  stated  the  importance  which  we  ought  to 
attach  to  the  ministry  of  the  word  and  sacraments,  and  the  ex- 
tent to  which  our  reverence  for  it  ought  to  be  carried,  so  as  to 
account  it  a  perpetual  mark  and  characteristic  of  the  Church. 
That  is  to  say,  that  wherever  that  exists  entire  and  uncorrupted, 
no  errors  and  irregularities  of  conduct  form  a  sufficient  reason 
for  refusing  the  name  of  a  Church.  In  the  next  place,  that  the 
ministry  itself  is  not  so  far  vitiated  by  smaller  errors,  as  to  be 
considered  on  that  account  less  legitimate.  It  has  further  been 
shown,  that  the  errors  which  are  entitled  to  this  forgiveness 
are  those  by  which  the  grand  doctrine  of  religion  is  not  injured, 
which  do  not  suppress  the  points  in  which  all  believers  ought 
to  agree  as  articles  of  faith,  and  which,  in  regard  to  the  sa- 
craments, neither  abolish  nor  subvert  the  legitimate  institution 
of  their  Author.  But  as  soon  as  falsehood  has  made  a  breach 
in  the  fundamentals  of  religion,  and  the  system  of  necessary 
doctrine  is  subverted,  and  the  use  of  the  sacraments  fails,  the 
certain  consequence  is  the  ruin  of  the  Church,  as  there  is  an 
end  of  a  man's  life  when  his  throat  is  cut,  or  his  heart  is  mor- 
tally wounded.  And  this  is  evident  from  the  language  of  Paul, 
when  he  declares  the  Church  to  be  "  built  upon  the  foundation 
of  the  apostles  and  prophets,  Jesus  Christ  himself  being  the 
chief  corner-stone."  {h)  If  the  foundation  of  the  Church  be 
the  doctrine  of  the  prophets  and  apostles,  which  enjoins  be- 
lievers to  place  their  salvation  in  Christ  alone,  how  can  the 
edifice  stand  any  longer,  when  that  doctrine  is  taken  away  ? 
The  Church,  therefore,  must  of  necessity  fall,  where  that  sys- 
tem of  religion  is  subverted  which  alone  is  able  to  sustain  it. 
Besides,  if  the  true  Church  be  "  the  pillar  and  ground  of 
truth,"  {i)  that  certainly  can  be  no  Church  where  delusion  and 
falsehood  have  usurped  the  dominion. 

II.  As  this  is  the  state  of  things  under  the  Papacy,  it  is  easy 
to  judge  how  much  of  the  Church  remains  there.  Instead  of 
the  ministry  of  the  word,  there  reigns  a  corrupt  government, 
composed  of  falsehoods,  by  which  the  pure  light  is  suppressed 
or  extinguished.  An  execrable  sacrilege  has  been  substituted 
for  the  Slipper  of  the  Lord.  The  worship  of  God  is  deformed 
by  a  multifarious  and  intolerable  mass  of  superstitions.  The 
doctrine,  without  which  Christianity  cannot  exist,  has  been 

(Jt)  Ephes.  ii.  20.  (j)  1  Tim.  iii.  15. 


entirely  forgotten  or  exploded.  The  public  assemblies  have 
become  schools  of  idolatry  and  impiety.  In  withdrawing  our- 
selves, therefore,  from  the  pernicious  participation  of  so  many 
enormities,  there  is  no  danger  of  separating  ourselves  from 
the  Church  of  Christ.  The  communion  of  the  Church  was 
not  instituted  as  a  bond  to  confine  us  in  idolatry,  impiety, 
ignorance  of  God,  and  other  evils  ;  but  rather  as  a  mean  to 
preserve  us  in  the  fear  of  God,  and  obedience  of  the  truth.  I 
know  that  the  Papists  give  us  the  most  magnificent  commen- 
dations of  their  Church,  to  make  us  believe  that  there  is  no 
other  in  the  world  ;  and  then,  as  if  they  had  gained  their  point, 
they  conclude  all  who  dare  to  withdraw  themselves  from  that 
Church  which  they  describe,  to  be  schismatics,  and  pronounce 
all  to  be  heretics  who  venture  to  open  their  mouths  in  opposi- 
tion to  its  doctrine.  But  by  what  reasons  do  they  prove  theirs 
to  be  the  true  Church  ?  They  allege  from  ancient  records 
what  formerly  occurred  in  Italy,  in  France,  in  Spain  ;  that  they 
are  descended  from  those  holy  men,  who  by  sound  doctrine 
founded  and  raised  the  Churches  in  these  countries,  and  con- 
firmed their  doctrine  and  the  edification  of  the  Church  by 
their  blood  ;  and  that  the  Church,  thus  consecrated  among 
them,  both  by  spiritual  gifts,  and  by  the  blood  of  martyrs,  has 
been  preserved  by  a  perpetual  succession  of  bishops,  that  it 
might  never  be  lost.  They  allege  the  importance  attached  to 
this  succession  by  Irenasus,  Tertullian,  Origen,  Augustine,  and 
others.  To  those  who  are  willing  to  attend  me  in  a  brief 
examination  of  these  allegations,  I  will  clearly  show  that  they 
are  frivolous,  and  manifestly  ridiculous.  I  would  likewise  ex- 
hort those  who  advance  them,  to  pay  a  serious  attention  to  the 
subject,  if  I  thought  my  arguments  could  produce  any  effect 
upon  them  ;  but  as  their  sole  object  is  to  promote  their  own 
interest  by  every  method  in  their  power,  without  any  regard 
to  truth,  I  shall  content  myself  with  making  a  few  observations, 
with  which  good  men,  and  inquirers  after  truth,  may  be  able 
to  answer  their  cavils.  In  the  first  place,  I  ask  them,  why 
they  allege  nothing  respecting  Africa,  and  Egypt,  and  all  Asia. 
It  is  because,  in  all  those  countries,  there  has  been  a  failure  of 
this  sacred  succession  of  bishops,  by  virtue  of  which  they  boast 
that  the  Church  has  been  preserved  among  them.  They  come 
to  this  point,  therefore,  that  they  have  the  true  Church,  be- 
cause from  its  commencement  it  has  never  been  destitute  of 
bishops,  for  that  some  have  been  succeeded  by  others  in  an 
uninterrupted  series.  But  what  if  I  oppose  them  with  the  ex- 
ample of  Greece  ?  I  ask  them  again,  therefore,  why  they  assert 
that  the  Church  has  been  lost  among  the  Greeks,  among  whom 
there  has  never  been  any  interruption  of  that  succession  of 
bishops,  which  they  consider  as  the  sole  guard  and  preservative 

VOL.  II.  3^ 

250  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IT, 

of  the  Church  ?  They  call  the  Greeks  schismatics.  For  what 
reason?  Because,  it  is  pretended,  they  have  lost  their  privi- 
lege by  revolting  from  the  Apostolical  see.  But  do  not  they 
much  more  deserve  to  lose  it,  who  have  revolted  from  Christ 
himself  ?  It  follows,  therefore,  that  their  plea  of  uninterrupted 
succession  is  a  vain  pretence,  unless  the  truth  of  Christ,  which 
was  transmitted  from  the  fathers,  be  permanently  retained  pure 
and  uncorrupted  by  their  posterity. 

III.  The  pretensions  of  the  Romanists,  therefore,  in  the 
present  day,  are  no  other  than  those  which  appear  to  have  been 
formerly  set  up  by  the  Jews,  when  they  were  reproved  by  the 
prophets  of  the  Lord  for  blindness,  impiety,  and  idolatry.  For 
as  the  Jews  boasted  of  the  temple,  the  ceremonies,  and  the 
priesthood,  in  which  things  they  firmly  believed  the  Church  to 
consist ;  so,  instead  of  the  Church,  the  Papists  produce  certain 
external  forms,  which  are  often  at  a  great  distance  from  the 
Church,  and  are  not  at  all  necessary  to  its  existence.  Wherefore 
we  need  no  other  argument  to  refute  them,  than  that  which  was 
urged  by  Jeremiah  against  that  foolish  confidence  of  the  Jews : 
"  Trust  ye  not  in  lying  words,  saying.  The  temple  of  the  Lord, 
the  temple  of  the  Lord,  the  temple  of  the  Lord,  are  these."  (k) 
For  the  Lord  acknowledges  no  place  as  his  temple,  where  his 
word  is  not  heard  and  devoutly  observed.  So,  though  the 
glory  of  God  resided  between  the  cherubim  in  the  sanctuary, 
and  he  had  promised  his  people  that  he  would  make  it  his 
permanent  seat,  yet  when  the  priests  had  corrupted  his  wor- 
ship by  perverse  superstitions,  he  departed,  and  left  the  place 
without  any  sanctity.  If  that  temple  which  appeared  to  be 
consecrated  to  the  perpetual  residence  of  God,  could  be  forsaken 
and  desecrated  by  him,  there  can  be  no  reason  for  their  pre- 
tending that  God  is  so  attached  to  persons  or  places,  or  confined 
to  external  observances,  as  to  be  constrained  to  remain  among 
those  who  have  nothing  but  the  name  and  appearance  of  the 
Church.  And  this  is  the  argument  which  is  maintained  by 
Paul  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans,  from  the  ninth  chapter  to 
the  twelfth.  For  it  had  violently  disturbed  weak  consciences, 
to  observe  that,  while  the  Jews  appeared  to  be  the  people  lof 
God,  they  not  only  rejected,  but  also  persecuted,  the  doctrine 
of  the  gospel.  Therefore,  after  having  discussed  that  doctrine, 
he  removes  this  difficulty ;  and  denies  the  claim  of  those  Jews, 
who  were  enemies  of  the  truth,  to  be  considered  as  the  Church, 
though  in  other  respects  they  wanted  nothing  that  could  bd 
requisite  to  its  external  form.  And  the  only  reason  for  this 
denial  was,  because  they  did  not  receive  Christ.  He  speaks 
rather  more  explicitly  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Galatians,  (l)  where, 

{k)  Jer.  vii.  4.  (Z)  Gal.  iv. 


in  a  comparison  between  Ishmac]  and  Isaac,  he  represents  many 
as  occupying  a  place  in  the  Church,  wlio  have  no  right  to  the 
inheritance,  because  they  are  not  the  children  of  a  free  mother. 
Hence  he  proceeds  to  a  contrast  of  the  two  Jerusalems,  because 
as  the  law  was  given  on  Mount  Sinai,  but  the  gospel  came 
forth  from  Jerusalem,  so  many  who  have  been  born  and  edu- 
cated in  bondage,  confidently  boast  of  being  the  children  of  God 
and  of  the  Church,  and  though  they  are  themselves  a  spurious 
ollspring,  look  down  with  contempt  on  his  genuine  and  legiti- 
mate children.  But  as  for  us,  on  the  contrary,  who  have  once 
heard  it  proclaimed  from  heaven,  "Cast  out  the  bondwoman 
and  her  son,"  let  us  confide  in  this  inviolable  decree,  and  reso- 
lutely despise  their  ridiculous  pretensions.  For  if  they  pride 
themselves  on  an  external  profession,  Ishmael  also  was  circum- 
cised. If  they  depend  on  antiquity,  he  was  the  first  born. 
Yet  we  see  that  he  was  rejected.  If  the  cause  of  this  be  in- 
quired, Paul  tells  us  that  none  are  accounted  children  but  those 
who  are  born  of  the  pure  and  legitimate  seed  of  the  word,  (m) 
According  to  this  reason,  the  Lord  declares  that  he  is  not  con- 
fined to  impious  priests,  because  he  had  made  a  covenant  with 
their  father  Levi  to  be  his  angel  or  messenger,  (n)  He  even 
retorts  on  them  their  false  boasting,  with  which  they  were 
accustomed  to  oppose  the  prophets,  that  the  dignity  of  the 
priesthood  ought  to  be  held  in  peculiar  estimation.  This  he 
readily  admits,  and  argues  with  them  on  this  ground,  because 
he  was  prepared  to  observe  the  covenant,  whereas  they  failed 
of  discharging  the  correspondent  obligations,  and  therefore  de- 
served to  be  rejected.  See,  then,  what  such  succession  is 
worth,  unless  it  be  connected  with  a  continual  imitation  and 
conformity.  Without  this,  the  descendants,  who  are  convicted 
of  a  departure  from  their  predecessors,  must  immediately  be 
deprived  of  all  honour ;  unless,  indeed,  because  Caiaphas  was 
the  successor  of  many  pious  priests,  and  there  had  been  an 
uninterrupted  series  even  from  Aaron  to  him,  that  execrable 
assembly  be  deemed  worthy  to  be  called  the  Church.  But  it 
would  not  be  tolerated  even  in  earthly  governments,  that  the 
tyranny  of  Caligula,  Nero,  Heliogabalus,  and  others,  should  be 
called  the  true  state  of  the  republic,  because  they  succeeded 
the  Bruti,  the  Scipios,  and  the  Camilli.  But  in  regard  to  the 
government  of  the  Church,  nothing  can  be  more  frivolous  than 
to  place  the  succession  in  the  persons,  to  the  neglect  of  the 
doctrine.  And  nothing  was  further  from  the  intentions  of  the 
holy  doctors,  whose  authority  th(,y  falsely  obtrude  upon  us, 
than  to  prove  that  Churches  existed  by  a  kind  of  hereditary 
right,  wherever  there  has  been  a  constant  succession  of  bishops. 

(m)  Rom.  ix.  6—8.  (m)  Mai.  ii.  1—9. 

252  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

But  as  it  was  beyond  all  doubt  that,  from  the  beginning  even 
down  to  their  times,  no  change  had  taken  place  in  the  doctrine, 
they  assumed,  what  would  suffice  for  the  confutation  of  all  new 
errors,  that  they  were  repugnant  to  the  doctrine  which  had 
been  constantly  and  unanimously  maintained  even  from  the 
days  of  the  apostles.  They  will  gain  nothing,  therefore,  by 
persisting  to  disguise  themselves  under  the  name  of  the  Church. 
The  Church  we  regard  with  becoming  reverence ;  but  when 
they  come  to  the  definition,  they  are  miserably  embarrassed,  for 
they  substitute  an  execrable  harlot  in  the  place  of  the  holy 
spouse  of  Christ.  That  we  may  not  be  deceived  by  such  a  sub- 
stitution, beside  other  admonitions,  let  us  remember  this  of  Au- 
gustine ;  for,  speaking  of  the  Church,  he  says,  "  It  is  sometimes 
obscured  and  beclouded  by  a  multitude  of  scandals  ;  sometimes 
it  appears  quiet  and  unmolested  in  a  season  of  tranquillity,  and 
is  sometimes  disturbed  and  overwhelmed  with  the  waves  of 
tribulations  and  temptations.-'  He  produces  examples,  that 
those  who  were  its  firmest  pillars,  have  either  undauntedly  suf- 
fered banishment  on  account  of  the  faith,  or  secluded  them- 
selves from  all  society. 

17.  In  the  same  manner,  the  Romanists  in  the  present  day 
harass  us,  and  terrify  ignorant  persons  with  the  name  of  the 
Church,  though  there  are  no  greater  enemies  to  Christ  than 
themselves.  Although  they  may  pretend  therefore  to  the  temple, 
the  priesthood,  and  other  similar  forms,  this  vain  glitter,  which 
dazzles  the  eyes  of  the  simple,  ought  by  no  means  to  induce  us 
to  admit  the  existence  of  a  Church,  where  we  cannot  discover 
the  word  of  God.  For  this  is  the  perpetual  mark  by  which  our 
Lord  has  characterized  his  people  :  "  Every  one  that  is  of  the 
truth  heareth  my  voice."  (o)  And,  "I  am  the  good  Shepherd, 
and  know  my  sheep,  and  am  known  of  mine."  "  My  sheep 
hear  my  voice,  and  I  know  them,  and  they  follow  me."  He 
had  just  before  said,  "  The  sheep  follow  their  shepherd ;  for 
they  know  his  voice ;  and  a  stranger  will  they  not  follow,  but 
will  flee  from  him,  for  they  know  not  the  voice  of  strangers."  (p) 
Why,  then,  do  we  wilfully  run  into  error  in  forming  a  judgment 
of  the  Church,  since  Christ  has  designated  it  by  an  unequivocal 
character,  that  wherever  it  is  discovered,  it  infallibly  assures 
us  of  the  existence  of  a  Church,  and  wherever  it  is  wanting, 
there  is  no  real  evidence  of  a  Church  left.  For  Paul  de- 
clares the  Church  to  be  founded,  not  upon  the  opinions  of 
men,  not  upon  the  priesthood,  but  upon  the  "doctrine  of  the 
apostles  and  prophets."  (q)  And  .Terusalem  is  to  be  distin- 
suished  from  Babylon,  the  Church  of  Christ  from  the  synaLrogue 
of  Satan,  by  this  diflcrence,  by  which  Christ  has  discriminated 

(o)  John  xviii.  37  {p)  John  x.  4,  5, 14,  27.  (j)  Ephes.  ii.  20. 


them  from  each  other  :  "  He  that  is  of  God,  heareth  God's  words  ; 
ye  therefore  hear  them  not,  because  ye  are  not  of  God."  (r) 
In  fine,  as  the  Chm-ch  is  the  kingdom  of  Christ,  and  he  reigns 
only  by  his  word,  can  any  person  doubt  the  falsehood  of  those 
pretensions,  which  represent  the  kingdom  of  Christ  as  destitute 
of  his  sceptre,  that  is,  of  his  holy  word  ? 

V.  With  respect  to  the  charge  which  they  bring  against  us  of 
heresy  and  schism,  because  we  preach  a  ditferent  doctrine  from 
theirs,  and  submit  not  to  their  laws,  and  hold  separate  as- 
semblies for  prayers,  for  baptism,  for  the  administration  of  the 
Lord's  supper,  and  other  sacred  exercises,  it  is  indeed  a  most 
heavy  accusation,  but  such  as  by  no  means  requires  a  long  or  la- 
borious defence.  The  appellations  of  heretics  and  schismatics 
are  applied  to  persons  who  cause  dissension,  and  destroy  the  com- 
munion of  the  Church.  Now,  this  communion  is  preserved  by 
two  bonds  —  agreement  in  sound  doctrine,  and  brotherly  love. 
Between  heretics  and  schismatics,  therefore,  Augustine  makes 
the  following  distinction  —  that  the  former  corrupt  the  purity  of 
the  faith  by  false  doctrines,  and  that  the  latter  break  the  bond 
of  affection,  sometimes  even  while  they  retain  the  same  faith. 
But  it  is  also  to  be  remarked,  that  this  union  of  affection  is 
dependent  on  the  unity  of  faith,  as  its  foundation,  end,  and  rule. 
Let  us  remember,  therefore,  that,  whenever  the  unity  of  the 
Church  is  enjoined  upon  us  in  the  Scripture,  it  is  required, 
that,  while  our  minds  hold  the  same  doctrines  in  Christ,  our 
wills  should  likewise  be  united  in  mutual  benevolence  in  Christ. 
Therefore,  Paul,  when  he  exhorts  us  to  it,  assumes  as  a  founda- 
tion, that  there  is  ''one  Lord,  one  faith,  and  one  baptism."  (s) 
And  when  he  inculcates  our  being  "like-minded,  and  having 
the  same  love,  being  of  one  accord,  of  one  mind,"  (t)  he  im- 
mediately adds,  that  this  should  be  in  Christ,  or  according  to 
Christ ;  signifying  that  all  union  which  is  formed  without  the 
word  of  the  Lord,  is  a  faction  of  the  impious,  and  not  an  asso- 
ciation of  believers. 

VI.  Cyprian,  also,  after  the  example  of  Paul,  deduces  the 
origin  of  all  ecclesiastical  concord  from  the  supreme  bishopric 
of  Christ.  He  afterwards  subjoins,  "  There  is  but  one  Church, 
which  is  widely  extended  into  a  multitude  by  the  ofispring  of 
its  fertility ;  just  as  there  are  many  rays  of  the  sun,  but  the 
light  is  one  ;  and  a  tree  has  many  branches,  but  only  one  trunk, 
fixed  on  a  firm  root.  And  when  many  rivers  issue  from  one 
source,  though  by  its  exuberant  abundance  the  stream  is  mul- 
tiplied into  numerous  currents,  yet  the  unity  of  the  fountain 
still  remains.  Separate  a  ray  from  the  body  of  the  sun,  and  its 
unity  sustains  no  division.  Break  off  a  branch  from  a  tree,  and 
tlie  broken  branch  can  never  bud.     Cut  off  a  river  from  the 

(r)  John  viii.  47.  (s)  Ephes.  iv.  5.  (l)  Phil.  ii.  2,  5. 

254  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV, 

source,  and  it  immediately  dries  up.  So  the  Church,  overspread 
with  the  hght  of  the  Lord,  is  extended  over  the  whole  world  : 
yet  it  is  one  and  the  same  light  which  is  universally  diffused." 
No  representation  could  be  more  elegant  to  express  that  insepa- 
rable connection  which  subsists  between  all  the  members  of 
Christ.  We  see  how  he  continually  recalls  us  to  the  fountain- 
head.  Therefore  he  pronounces  the  origin  of  heresies  and 
schisms  to  be,  that  men  neither  return  to  the  source  of  truth, 
nor  seek  the  Head,  nor  attend  to  the  doctrine  of  the  heavenly 
Master.  Now,  let  the  Romanists  exclaim  that  we  are  heretics, 
because  we  have  withdrawn  from  their  church ;  while  the  sole 
cause  of  our  secession  has  been,  that  theirs  cannot  possibly  be 
the  pure  profession  of  the  truth.  I  say  nothing  of  their  having 
expelled  us  with  anathemas  and  execrations.  But  this  reason 
is  more  than  sufficient  for  our  exculpation,  unless  they  are 
determined  to  pronounce  sentence  of  schism  also  against  the 
apostles,  with  whom  we  have  but  one  common  cause.  Christ, 
I  say,  foretold  to  his  apostles,  that  for  his  name's  sake  they 
should  be  cast  out  of  the  synagogues,  (v)  Now,  those  syna- 
gogues, of  which  he  spoke,  were  then  accounted  legitimate 
Churches.  Since  it  is  evident,  then,  that  we  have  been  cast 
out,  and  we  are  prepared  to  prove  that  this  has  been  done  for 
the  name  of  Christ,  it  is  necessary  to  inquire  into  the  cause, 
before  any  thing  be  determined  respecting  us,  either  on  one  side 
or  the  other.  But  this  point  I  readily  relinquish  to  them.  It  is 
sufficient  for  me  that  it  was  necessary  for  us  to  withdraw  from 
them,  in  order  to  approach  to  Christ. 

VII.  But  it  will  be  still  more  evident,  in  what  estimation 
we  ought  to  hold  all  the  Churches  who  have  submitted  to  the 
tyranny  of  the  Roman  pontilf,  if  we  compare  them  with  the 
ancient  Church  of  Israel,  as  delineated  by  the  prophets.  There 
was  a  true  Church  among  the  Jews  and  the  Israelites,  while 
they  continued  to  observe  the  laws  of  the  covenant ;  because 
they  then  obtained  from  the  favour  of  God  those  things  which 
constitute  a  Church.  They  had  the  doctrine  of  truth  in  the 
xaw  ;  the  ministry  of  it  was  committed  to  the  priests  and 
prophets ;  they  were  initiated  into  the  Church  by  the  sign  of 
circumcision ;  and  were  exercised  in  other  sacraments  for  the 
confirmation  of  their  faith.  There  is  no  doubt  that  the  com- 
mendations, with  which  the  Lord  has  honoured  his  Church, 
truly  belonged  to  their  society.  But  after  they  deserted  the 
law  of  the  Lord,  and  fell  into  idolatry  and  superstition,  they 
partly  lost  this  privilege.  For  who  would  dare  to  refuse  the 
title  of  a  Church  to  those  among  whom  God  deposited  the 
preaching  of  his  word,  and  the  observance  of  his  mysteries  ? 

(v)  John  xvi.  2. 


On  the  other  hand,  who  would  dare  to  give  the  appellation  of 
a  Church,  without  any  exception,  to  that  society,  where  the 
word  of  God  is  openly  and  fearlessly  trampled  under  foot  ; 
where  its  ministry,  the  principal  sinew,  and  even  the  soul  of 
the  Church,  is  discontinued  ? 

VIII.  What,  then,  it  will  be  said,  was  there  no  particle  of  a 
Church  left  among  the  Jews  from  the  moment  of  their  defection 
to  idolatry  ?  The  answer  is  easy.  In  the  first  place,  I  observe, 
that  in  this  defection  there  were  several  degrees.  Nor  will  we 
maintain  the  fall  of  Judah,  and  that  of  Israel,  to  have  been  ex- 
actly the  same,  at  the  time  when  they  both  began  to  depart 
from  the  pure  worship  of  God.  When  Jeroboam  made  the 
calves,  in  opposition  to  the  express  prohibition  of  God,  and 
dedicated  a  place  which  it  was  not  lawful  to  use  for  the  oblation 
of  sacrifices,  in  this  case  religion  was  totally  corrupted.  The 
Jews  polluted  themselves  with  practical  impieties  and  supersti- 
tions, before  they  made  any  unlawful  changes  in  the  external 
forms  of  religion.  For  though  they  generally  adopted  many 
corrupt  ceremonies  in  the  time  of  Rehoboam,  yet  as  the  doctrine 
of  the  law,  and  the  priesthood,  and  the  rites  which  God  had 
instituted,  were  still  preserved  at  Jerusalem,  believers  had 
in  that  kingdom  a  tolerable  form  of  a  Church.  Among  the 
Israelites,  there  was  no  reformation  down  to  the  reign  of  Ahab, 
and  in  his  time  there  was  an  alteration  for  the  worse.  Of  the 
succeeding  kings,  even  to  the  subversion  of  the  kingdom,  some 
resembled  Aliab,  and  others,  who  would  be  a  little  better,  followed 
the  example  of  Jeroboam  ;  but  all,  without  exception,  were 
impious  idolaters.  In  Judah  there  were  various  changes  ;  some 
kings  corrupted  the  worship  of  God  with  false  and  groundless 
superstitions,  and  others  restored  religion  from  its  abuses  ;  till, 
at  length,  the  priests  themselves  polluted  the  temple  of  God 
with  idolatrous  and  abominable  rites. 

IX.  Now,  however  the  Papists  may  extenuate  their  vices,  let 
them  deny,  if  they  can,  that  the  state  of  religion  is  as  corrupt  and 
depraved  among  them,  as  it  was  in  the  kingdom  of  Israel,  in 
the  time  of  Jeroboam.  But  they  practise  a  grosser  idolatry,  and 
their  doctrine  is  equally,  if  not  more,  impure.  God  is  my 
witness,  and  all  men  who  are  endued  with  moderate  judgment, 
and  the  fact  itself  declares,  that  in  this  I  am  guilty  of  no  exag- 
geration. Now,  when  they  try  to  drive  us  into  the  communion 
of  their  Church,  they  require  two  things  of  us  —  first,  that  we 
should  communicate  in  all  their  prayers,  sacraments,  and  cere- 
monies ;  secondly,  that  whatever  honour,  power,  and  jurisdic- 
tion, Christ  has  conferred  upon  his  Church,  we  should  attribute 
the  same  to  theirs.  With  respect  to  the  first  point,  I  confess 
that  the  prophets  who  were  at  Jerusalem,  when  the  state  of 
affairs  there  was  very  corrupt,  neither  offered  up  sacrifices  apart 

256  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

from  others,  nor  held  separate  assemblies  for  prayer.  For  they 
had  the  express  command  of  God,  that  they  were  to  assemble 
in  the  temple  of  Solomon  ;  and  they  knew  that  the  Levitical 
priests,  because  they  had  been  ordained  by  the  Lord  as  min- 
isters of  the  sacrifices,  and  had  not  been  deposed,  however 
unworthy  they  might  be  of  such  honour,  still  retained  the 
lawful  possession  of  that  place.  But,  what  is  the  principal 
point  of  the  whole  controversy,  they  were  not  constrained  to 
join  in  any  superstitious  worship ;  on  the  contrary,  they  en- 
gaged in  no  service  that  \vas  not  of  Divine  institution.  But  what 
resemblance  is  there  to  this  among  the  Papists  ?  We  can  scarcely 
assemble  with  them  on  a  single  occasion,  without  polluting 
ourselves  with  open  idolatry.  The  principal  bond  of  their  com- 
munion is  certainly  the  mass,  which  we  abominate  as  the 
greatest  sacrilege.  Whether  we  are  right  or  wrong  in  this,  will 
be  seen  in  another  place.  It  is  sufficient,  at  present,  to  show 
that,  in  this  respect,  our  case  is  different  from  that  of  the 
prophets,  who,  though  they  were  present  at  the  sacrifices  of 
impious  persons,  were  never  compelled  to  use,  or  to  witness, 
any  ceremonies  but  those  which  God  had  instituted.  And  if  we 
wish  to  have  an  example  entirely  similar,  we  must  take  it  from 
the  kingdom  of  Israel.  According  to  the  regulations  of  Jeroboam, 
circumcision  continued,  sacrifices  were  offered,  the  law  was 
regarded  as  sacred,  the  people  invoked  the  same  God  whom 
their  fathers  had  worshipped ;  yet,  on  account  of  novel  cere- 
monies invented  in  opposition  to  the  Divine  prohibitions,  God 
disapproved  and  condemned  all  that  was  done  there.  Show  me 
a  single  prophet,  or  any  pious  man,  who  even  once  worshipped 
or  offered  sacrifice  at  Bethel.  They  knew  that  they  could  not 
do  it  without  contaminating  themselves  with  sacrilege.  We 
have  established  this  point,  therefore,  that  the  attachment  of 
pious  persons  to  the  communion  of  the  Church,  ought  not  to  be 
carried  to  such  an  extent,  as  to  oblige  them  to  remain  in  it,  if  it 
degenerated  into  profane  and  impure  rites. 

X.  But  against  their  second  requisition,  we  contend  upon  still 
stronger  ground.  For  if  the  Church  be  held  in  such  considera- 
tion that  we  are  required  to  revere  its  judgment,  to  obey  its  au- 
thority, to  receive  its  admonitions,  to  fall  under  its  censures, 
and  scrupulously  and  uniformly  to  adhere  to  its  communion, 
we  cannot  allow  their  claim  to  the  character  of  the  Church, 
without  necessarily  obliging  ourselves  to  subjection  and  obe- 
dience. Yet  we  readily  concede  to  them  what  the  prophets 
conceded  to  the  Jews  and  Israelites  of  their  time,  when  thmgs 
among  them  were  in  a  similar,  or  even  in  a  better  state.  But 
we  see  how  they  frequently  exclaim,  that  their  assemblies  were 
iniquitous  meetings,  (w)  a  concurrence  in  which  were  as  crimi- 

(w)  Isaiah  i.  13,  14. 


nal  as  a  renunciation  of  God.  And  certainly,  if  those  assemolies 
weie  Churches,  it  follows  that  Elijah,  Micaiah,  and  others  in 
Israel,  were  strangers  to  the  Church  of  God  ;  and  the  same 
would  be  true  of  Isaiah,  Jeremiah,  Hosea,  and  others  of  that 
description  in  Judah,  whom  the  false  propliets,  priests,  and  people 
of  their  day,  hated  and  execrated  as  if  they  had  been  worse  than 
any  heathens.  If  such  assemblies  were  Churches,  then  the 
Church  is  not  the  pillar  of  truth,  but  a  foundation  of  falsehood, 
not  the  sanctuary  of  the  living  God,  but  a  receptacle  of  idols. 
They  found  themselves  under  a  necessity,  therefore,  of  with- 
drawing from  all  connection  with  those  assemblies,  which  were 
nothing  but  a  conspiracy  against  God.  For  the  same  reason, 
if  any  one  acknowledges  the  assemblies  of  the  present  day, 
which  are  contaminated  with  idolatry,  superstition,  and  false 
doctrine,  as  true  Churches,  in  full  communion  with  which  a 
Cliristian  man  ought  to  continue,  and  in  whose  doctrine  he  ought 
to  coincide,  this  will  be  a  great  error.  For  if  they  be  Churches, 
they  possess  the  power  of  the  keys  ;  but  the  keys  are  insepa- 
rably connected  with  the  word,  which  is  exploded  from  among 
them.  Again,  if  they  be  Churches,  that  promise  of  Christ  must 
be  applicable  to  them  —  "Whatsoever  ye  shall  bind  on  earth 
shall  be  bound  in  heaven,  and  whatsoever  ye  shall  loose  on 
earth  shall  be  loosed  in  heaven."  {x)  On  the  contrary,  all  who 
sincerely  profess  themselves  to  be  the  servants  of  Christ,  they 
expel  from  their  communion.  Either,  therefore,  the  promise 
of  Christ  must  be  vain,  or  in  this  respect  they  are  not 
Churches.  Lastly,  instead  of  the  ministry  of  the  word,  they 
have  schools  of  impiety,  and  a  gulf  of  every  species  of  errors. 
Either,  therefore,  in  this  respect  they  are  not  Churches,  or  no 
mark  will  be  left  to  distinguish  the  legitimate  assemblies  of 
believers  from  the  conventions  of  Turks. 

XI.  Nevertheless,  as  in  former  times  the  Jews  continued  in 
possession  of  some  peculiar  privileges  of  the  Church,  so  we 
refuse  not  to  acknowledge,  among  the  Papists  of  the  present 
day,  those  vestiges  of  the  Church  which  it  has  pleased  the  Lord 
should  remain  among  them  after  its  removal.  When  God  had 
once  made  his  covenant  with  the  Jews,  it  continued  among 
them,  rather  because  it  was  supported  by  its  own  stability 
in  opposition  to  their  impiety,  than  in  consequence  of  their 
observance  of  it.  Such,  therefore,  was  the  certainty  and  con- 
stancy of  the  Divine  goodness,  the  covenant  of  the  Lord 
remained  among  them  ;  his  faithfulness  could  not  be  obliterated 
oy  their  perfidy  ;  nor  could  circnmcision  be  so  profaned  by  their 
impure  hands,  but  that  it  was  always  the  true  sign  and  sacra- 
ment  of  his   covenant.     Hence  the  children  that  were  born 

(x)  Matt,  xviii.  13. 

VOL.  II.  33 

258  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

to  them,  God  calls  his  own,  {y)  though  they  could  not  have 
belonged  to  him  but  by  a  special  benediction.  So  after  he  had 
deposited  his  covenant  in  France,  Italy,  Germany,  Spain,  and 
England,  when  those  countries  were  oppressed  by  the  tyranny 
of  Antichrist,  still,  in  order  that  the  covenant  might  remain  in- 
violable, as  a  testimony  of  that  covenant,  he  preserved  baptism 
among  them,  which,  being  consecrated  by  his  lips,  retahis  its 
virtue  in  opposition  to  all  the  impiety  of  men.  He  also,  by  his 
providence,  caused  other  vestiges  of  the  Church  to  remain,  that 
it  might  not  be  entirely  lost.  And  as  buildings  are  frequently 
demoHshed  in  such  a  manner  as  to  leave  the  foundations  and 
ruins  remaining,  so  the  Lord  has  not  sutfered  Antichrist  either 
to  subvert  his  Church  from  the  foundation,  or  to  level  it  with 
the  ground ;  though,  to  punish  the  ingratitude  of  men  who 
despised  his  word,  he  has  permitted  a  dreadful  concussion  and 
dilapidation  to  be  made  ;  yet,  amidst  this  devastation,  he  has 
been  pleased  to  preserve  the  edifice  from  being  entirely  destroyed. 
XII.  While  we  refuse,  therefore,  to  allow  to  the  Papists  the 
title  of  the  Church,  without  any  qualification  or  restriction,  we  do 
not  deny  that  there  are  Churches  among  them.  We  only  con- 
tend for  the  true  and  legitimate  constitution  of  the  Church,  which 
requires  not  only  a  communion  in  the  sacraments,  which  are 
the  signs  of  a  Christian  profession,  but  above  all,  an  agreement 
in  'doctrine.  Daniel  and  Paul  had  predicted  that  Antichrist 
would  sit  in  the  temple  of  God.  {z)  The  head  of  that  cursed 
and  abominable  kingdom,  in  the  Western  Church,  we  affirm  to 
be  the  Pope.  When  his  seat  is  placed  in  the  temple  of  God,  it 
suggests,  that  his  kingdom  will  be  such,  that  he  will  not  abolish 
the  name  of  Christ,  or  the  Church.  Hence  it  appears,  that  we 
by  no  means  deny  that  Churches  may  exist,  even  under  his 
tyranny  ;  but  he  has  profaned  them  by  sacrilegious  impiety, 
afflicted  them  by  cruel  despotism,  corrupted  and  almost  termi- 
nated their  existence  by  false  and  pernicious  doctrines,  like  poi- 
sonous potions ;  in  such  Churches,  Christ  lies  half  buried,  the 
gospel  is  suppressed,  piety  exterminated,  and  the  worship  of 
God  almost  abolished ;  in  a  word,  they  are  altogether  in  such  a 
state  of  confusion,  that  they  exhibit  a  picture  of  Babylon,  rather 
than  of  the  holy  city  of  God.  To  conclude,  I  affirm  that  they 
are  Churches,  inasmuch  as  God  has  wonderfully  preserved 
among  them  a  remnant  of  his  people,  though  miserably  dispersed 
and  dejected,  and  as  there  still  remain  some  marks  of  the  Church, 
especijilly  those,  the  efficacy  of  which  neither  the  craft  of  the 
devil  nor  the  malice  of  men  can  ever  destroy.  But,  on  the  other 
hand,  because  those  marks,  which  we  ought  chiefly  to  regard  in 

{y)  Ezek.  xiv.  20.  (2)  Dan.  ix.  27.     2  Thess.  ii.  3,  4. 


this  controversy,  are  obliterated,  I  affirm,  that  the  form  of  the 
legitimate  Church  is  not  to  be  found  either  in  any  one  of  theii 
congregations,  or  in  the  body  at  large. 



We  must  now  treat  of  the  order  which  it  has  been  the  Lord's 
will  to  appoint  for  the  government  of  his  Church.  For  although 
he  alone  ought  to  rule  and  reign  in  the  Church,  and  to  have  all 
preeminence  in  it,  and  this  government  ought  to  be  exercised 
and  administered  solely  by  his  word,  —  yet,  as  he  dwells  not 
among  us  by  a  visible  presence,  so  as  to  make  an  audible  de- 
claration of  his  will  to  us,  we  have  stated,  that  for  this  purpose 
he  uses  the  ministry  of  men  whom  he  employs  as  his  delegates, 
not  to  transfer  his  right  and  honour  to  them,  but  only  that  he 
may  himself  do  his  work  by  their  lips ;  just  as  an  artificer 
makes  use  of  an  instrument  *in  the  performance  of  his  work. 
Some  observations  which  1  have  made  already,  are  necessary  to 
be  repeated  here.  It  is  true  that  he  might  do  this  either  by 
himself,  without  any  means  or  instruments,  or  even  by  angels ; 
but  there  are  many  reasons  why  he  prefers  making  use  of  men. 
For,  in  the  first  place,  by  this  method  he  declares  his  kindness 
towards  us,  since  he  chooses  from  among  men  those  who  are 
to  be  his  ambassadors  to  the  world,  to  be  the  interpreters  of 
his  secret  will,  and  even  to  act  as  his  personal  representatives. 
And  thus  he  affords  an  actual  proof,  that  when  he  so  fre- 
quently calls  us  his  temples,  it  is  not  an  unmeaning  appel- 
lation, since  he  gives  answers  to  men,  even  from  the  mouths 
of  men,  as  from  a  sanctuary.  In  the  second  place,  this  is  a 
most  excellent  and  beneficial  method  to  train  us  to  humility, 
since  he  accustoms  us  to  obey  his  word,  though  it  is  preached 
to  us  by  men  like  ourselves,  and  sometimes  even  of  inferior 
rank.  If  he  were  himself  to  speak  from  heaven,  there  would 
be  no  wonder  if  his  sacred  oracles  were  instantly  received 
with  reverence,  by  the  ears  and  hearts  of  all  mankind.  For 
who  would  not  be  awed  by  his  present  power  ?  who  would  not 
fall  prostrate  at  the  first  view  of  infinite  Majesty  ?  who  would 
not  be  confounded  by  that  overpowering  splendour  ?  But 
when  a  contemptible  mortal,  who  had  just  emerged  from  the 
dust,   addresses   us  in  the  name  of  God,    we   give   the  best 

260  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

evidence  of  our  piety  and  reverence  towards  God  himself,  if  we 
readily  submit  to  be  instructed  by  his  minister,  who  possesses 
no  personal  superiority  to  ourselves.  For  this  reason,  also,  he  has 
deposited  the  treasure  of  his  heavenly  wisdom  in  frail  and 
earthen  vessels,  (a)  in  order  to  afford  a  better  proof  of  the 
estimation  in  which  we  hold  it.  Besides,  nothing  was  more 
adapted  to  promote  brotherly  love,  than  a  mutual  connection 
of  men  by  this  bond,  while  one  is  constituted  the  pastor  to 
teach  all  the  rest,  and  they  who  are  commanded  to  be  disci- 
ples, receive  one  common  doctrine  from  the  same  mouth.  For 
if  each  person  were  sufficient  for  himself,  and  had  no  need  of 
the  assistance  of  another,  such  is  the  pride  of  human  nature, 
every  one  would  despise  others,  and  would  also  be  despised 
by  them.  The  Lord,  therefore,  has  connected  his  Church 
together,  by  that  which  he  foresaw  would  be  the  strongest 
bond  for  the  preservation  of  their  union,  when  he  committed 
the  doctrine  of  eternal  life  and  salvation  to  men,  that  by  their 
hands  it  might  be  communicated  to  others.  Paul  had  this 
in  view  when  he  wrote  to  the  Ephesians,  "  There  is  one 
body,  and  one  Spirit,  even  as  ye  are  called  in  one  hope  of 
your  calling ;  one  Lord,  one  faith,  one  baptism,  one  God  and 
Father  of  all,  who  is  above  all,  and  through  all,  and  in  you 
all.  But  unto  every  one  of  us  is  given  grace  according  to 
the  measure  of  the  gift  of  Christ.  Wherefore  he  saith.  When 
he  ascended  up  on  high,  he  led  captivity  captive,  and  gave 
gifts  unto  men.  (Now  that  he  ascended,  what  is  it  but  that 
he  also  descended  first  into  the  lower  parts  of  the  earth  ?  He 
that  descended  is  the  same  also  that  ascended  up  far  above 
all  heavens,  that  he  might  fill  all  things.)  And  he  gave  some, 
apostles  ;  and  some,  prophets  ;  and  some,  evangelists  ;  and  some, 
pastors  and  teachers ;  for  the  perfecting  of  the  saints,  for  the 
work  of  the  ministry,  for  the  edifying  of  the  body  of  Christ ; 
till  we  all  come  in  the  unity  of  the  faith,  and  of  the  know- 
ledge of  the  Son  of  God,  unto  a  perfect  man,  unto  the  mea- 
sure of  the  stature  of  the  fulness  of  Christ  ;  that  we  hence- 
forth be  no  more  children,  tossed  to  and  fro,  and  carried  about 
with  every  wind  of  doctrine,  by  the  sleight  of  men,  and  cun- 
ning craftiness,  whereby  they  lie  in  wait  to  deceive  ;  but,  sj)eak- 
ing  the  truth  in  love,  may  grow  up  into  him  in  all  things,  which 
is  the  head,  even  Christ  ;  from  whom  the  whole  body  fitly 
joined  together,  and  compacted  by  that  which  every  joint 
supplieth,  according  to  the  effectual  working  in  the  measure 
of  every  part,  maketh  increase  of  the  body  unto  the  edifying 
of  itself  in  love."  (b) 

IL    In  this  passage  he  shows  that  the  ministry  of  men,  which 

(a)  2  Cor.  iv.  7.  (b)  Eph.  iv.  4—16. 


God  employs  in  his  government  of  the  Church,  is  the  principal 
bond  which  holds  believers  together  in  one  body.  He  also 
indicates  that  the  Church  cannot  be  preserved  in  perfect  safety, 
unless  it  be  supported  by  these  means  which  God  has  been 
pleased  to  appoint  for  its  preservation.  Christ,  he  says,  "as- 
cended up  far  above  all  heavens,  that  he  might  fill  all  things."  (c) 
And  this  is  the  way  in  which  he  does  it.  By  means  of  his 
ministers,  to  whom  he  has  committed  this  office,  and  on  whom 
he  has  bestowed  grace  to  discharge  it,  he  dispenses  and  distri- 
butes his  gifts  to  the  Church,  and  even  affords  some  manifesta- 
tion of  his  own  presence,  by  exerting  the  power  of  his  Spirit  in 
this  his  institution,  that  it  may  not  be  vain  or  ineffectual. 
Thus  is  the  restoration  of  the  saints  effected ;  thus  is  the  body 
of  Christ  edified  ;  thus  we  grow  up  unto  him  who  is  our  Head 
in  all  things,  and  are  united  with  each  other ;  thus  we  are  all 
brought  to  the  unity  of  Christ ;  if  prophecy  flourishes  among 
us,  if  we  receive  the  apostles,  if  we  despise  not  the  doctrine 
which  is  delivered  to  us.  Whoever,  therefore,  either  aims  to 
abolish  or  undervalue  this  order,  of  which  we  are  treating,  and 
this  species  of  government,  attempts  to  disorganize  the  Church, 
or  rather  to  subvert  and  destroy  it  altogether.  For  neither  the 
light  and  heat  of  the  sun,  nor  any  meat  and  drink,  are  so  neces- 
sary to  the  nourishment  and  sustenance  of  the  present  life,  as  the 
apostolical  and  pastoral  office  is  to  the  preservation  of  the  Church 
in  the  w^orld. 

HI.  Therefore  I  have  already  remarked,  that  God  has  fre- 
quently commended  its  dignity  to  us  by  every  possible  enco- 
mium, in  order  that  we  might  hold  it  in  the  highest  estimation 
and  value,  as  more  excellent  than  every  thing  else.  That  he 
confers  a  peculiar  favour  upon  men  by  raising  up  teachers  for 
them,  he  fully  signifies,  when  he  commands  the  prophet  to 
exclaim,  "  How  beautiful  are  the  feet  of  him  that  publisheth 
peace ;  "  [d)  and  when  he  calls  the  apostles  "the  light  of  the 
world,"  and  "  the  salt  of  the  earth."  (e)  Nor  could  that  office 
be  more  splendidly  distinguished  than  when  he  said  to  them, 
"  He  that  heareth  you,  heareth  me."  (/)  But  there  is  no 
passage  more  remarkable  than  that  in  Paul 's  Second  Epistle  to 
the  Corinthians,  where  he  professedly  discusses  this  question. 
He  contends,  that  there  is  nothing  more  excellent  or  glorious 
than  the  ministry  of  the  gospel  in  the  Church,  inasmuch  as 
it  is  the  ministration  of  the  Spirit,  and  of  righteousness,  and  of 
eternal  life,  {g)  The  tendency  of  these  and  similar  passages,  is 
to  preserve  that  mode  of  governing  the  Church  by  its  ministers, 
which  the  Lord  appointed  to  be  of  perpetual  continuance,  from 

(e)  Eph.  iv.  10.  {d)  Isaiah  lii.  7.  (e)  Matt.  v.  13,  14. 

(/)  Luke  X.  16.  (g)  2  Cor.  iii.  6,  &c. 

262  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

sinking  into  disesteem,  and,  at  length,  falling  into  disuse  throngh 
mere  contempt.  And  how  exceedingly  necessary  it  is,  he  has 
not  only  declared  in  words,  but  shown  by  examples.  When 
he  was  pleased  to  illuminate  Cornelius  more  fully  with  the 
light  of  his  truth,  he  despatched  an  angel  from  heaven  to  send 
Peter  to  him.  When  he  designs  to  call  Paul  to  the  knowledge 
of  himself,  and  to  introduce  him  into  the  Church,  he  does  not 
address  him  with  his  own  voice,  but  sends  him  to  a  man  to  re- 
ceive the  doctrine  of  salvation,  and  the  sanctification  of  baptism. 
If  it  was  not  without  sufRcient  reason,  that  an  angel,  who  is 
the  messenger  of  God,  refrains  from  announcing  the  Divine  will 
himself,  and  directs  a  man  to  be  sent  for  in  order  to  declare  it,  — 
and  that  Christ,  the  sole  Teacher  of  believers,  committed  Paul 
to  the  instruction  of  a  man,  the  same  Paul  whom  he  had  deter- 
mined to  elevate  into  the  third  heaven,  and  to  favour  with  a 
miraculous  revelation  of  things  unspeakable,  —  who  can  now 
dare  to  despise  that  ministry,  or  to  neglect  it  as  unnecessary,  the 
utility  and  necessity  of  which  God  has  been  pleased  to  evince 
by  such  examples  ? 

IV.  Those  who  preside  over  the  government  of  the  Church, 
according  to  the  institution  of  Christ,  are  named  by  Paul,  first, 
"apostles;"  secondly,  "prophets;"  thirdly,  "evangelists;" 
fourthly,  "  pastors  ;  "  lastly,  "  teachers."  {h)  Of  these,  only  the 
two  last  sustain  an  ordinary  office  in  the  Church  :  the  others  were 
such  as  the  Lord  raised  up  at  the  commencement  of  his  king- 
dom, and  such  as  he  still  raises  up  on  particular  occasions,  when 
required  by  the  necessity  of  the  times.  The  nature  of  the 
apostolic  office  is  manifest  from  this  command  :  "  Go  preach 
the  gospel  to  every  creature,"  {i)  No  certain  limits  are  pre- 
scribed, but  the  whole  world  is  assigned  to  them,  to  be  re- 
duced to  obedience  to  Christ ;  that  by  disseminating  the  gospel 
wherever  they  could,  they  might  erect  his  kingdom  in  all 
nations.  Therefore  Paul,  when  he  wished  to  prove  his  apostle- 
ship,  declares,  not  merely  that  he  had  gained  some  one  city  for 
Christ,  but  that  he  had  propagated  the  gospel  far  and  wide, 
and  that  he  had  not  built  upon  tlie  foundation  of  others,  but  had 
planted  Churches  where  the  name  of  the  Lord  had  never  been 
heard  before.  The  "  apostles,"  therefore,  were  missionaries,  who 
were  to  reduce  the  world  from  their  revolt  to  true  obedience  to 
God,  and  to  establish  his  kingdom  universally  by  the  preaching 
of  the  gospel.  Or,  if  you  please,  they  were  the  first  architects 
of  the  Church,  appointed  to  lay  its  foundations  all  over  the 
world.  Paul  gives  the  appellation  of  "  prophets,"  not  to  all 
mterpreters  of  the  Divine  will,  but  only  to  those  who  were 
honoured  with  some  special  revelation.    Of  these,  either  there 

Qi)  Eph.  iv.  11.  (i)  Mark  xvi.  15. 


are  none  in  our  day,  or  they  are  less  conspicuous.  By  "  evan- 
gelists," I  understand  those  who  were  inferior  to  the  apostles 
in  dignity,  but  next  to  them  in  office,  and  who  performed  sim- 
ilar functions.  Such  were  Luke,  Timothy,  Titus,  and  others 
of  that  description  ;  and  perhaps  also  the  seventy  disciples, 
whom  Christ  ordained  to  occupy  the  second  station  from  the 
a[)Ostles.  {k)  According  to  this  interpretation,  which  appears 
to  me  perfectly  consistent  with  the  language  and  meaning  of 
the  apostle,  those  three  offices  were  not  instituted  to  be  of 
perpetual  continuance  in  the  Church,  but  only  for  that  age 
when  Churches  were  to  be  raised  where  none  had  existed  be- 
fore, or  were  at  least  to  be  conducted  from  Moses  to  Christ. 
Though  I  do  not  deny,  that,  even  since  that  period,  God  has 
sometimes  raised  up  apostles  or  evangelists  in  their  stead,  as 
he  has  done  in  our  own  time.  For  there  was  a  necessity  for 
such  persons  to  recover  the  Church  from  the  defection  of  An- 
tichrist. Nevertheless,  I  call  this  an  extraordinary  office, 
because  it  has  no  place  in  well-constituted  Churches.  Next 
follow  "  pastors  "  and  "  teachers,"  who  are  always  indispensable 
to  the  Church.  The  difference  between  them  I  apprehend  to 
be  this  —  tliat  teachers  have  no  official  concern  with  the  disci- 
pline, or  the  administration  of  the  sacraments,  or  with  admoni- 
tions and  exhortations,  but  only  with  the  interpretation  of  the 
Scripture,  that  pure  and  sound  doctrine  may  be  retained  among 
believers  ;  whereas  the  pastoral  office  includes  all  these  things. 
V.  We  have  now  ascertained  what  offices  were  appointed  to 
continue  for  a  time  in  the  government  of  the  Church,  and  what 
were  instituted  to  be  of  perpetual  duration.  If  we  connect 
the  evangelists  with  the  apostles,  as  sustaining  the  same  office, 
we  shall  then  have  two  offices  of  each  description,  correspond- 
ing to  each  other.  For  our  pastors  bear  the  same  resemblance 
to  the  apostles,  as  our  teachers  do  to  the  ancient  prophets. 
The  office  of  the  prophets  was  more  excellent,  on  account  of 
the  special  gift  of  revelation,  by  which  they  were  distinguished  ; 
but  the  office  of  teachers  is  executed  in  a  similar  manner,  and 
has  precisely  the  same  end.  So  those  twelve  individuals, 
whom  the  Lord  chose  to  pronuilgate  the  first  proclamation  of 
his  gospel  to  the  world,  preceded  all  others  in  order  and  dignity. 
For  although,  according  to  the  meaning  and  etymology  of  the 
word,  all  the  ministers  of  the  Church  may  be  called  apostles, 
because  they  are  all  sent  by  the  Lord,  and  are  his  messengers, 
yet,  as  it  was  of  great  importance  to  have  a  certain  knowledge 
of  the  mission  of  persons  who  were  to  announce  a  thing  new 
and  unheard  before,  it  was  necessary  that  those  twelve,  together 
with  Paul,  who  was  afterwards  added  to  their  number,  should 
be  distinguished  beyond  all  others  by  a  peculiar  title.     Paul 

(k)  Luke  X.  1. 

264  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

himself,  indeed,  gives  this  name  to  "Andronicus  and  Junia^ 
who,"  he  says,  "are  of  note  among  the  apostles  ;"  (/)  but 
when  he  means  to  speak  with  strict  propriety,  he  never  applies 
that  name  except  to  those  of  the  first  order  that  we  have  men- 
tioned. And  this  is  the  common  usage  of  the  Scripture.  But 
the  province  of  pastors  is  the  same  as  that  of  the  apostles,  ex- 
cept that  they  preside  over  particular  Churches  respectively 
committed  to  each  of  them.  Of  the  nature  of  their  functions 
let  us  now  proceed  to  a  more  distinct  statement. 

VI.  Our  Lord,  when  he  sent  forth  his  apostles,  commissioned 
them,  as  we  have  just  remarked,  to  preach  the  gospel,  and  to 
baptize  all  believers  for  the  remission  of  sins,  [m]  He  had 
already  commanded  them  to  distribute  the  sacred  symbols  of 
his  body  and  blood  according  to  his  OAvn  example,  (w)  Behold 
the  sacred,  inviolable,  and  perpetual  law  imposed  upon  those 
who  call  themselves  successors  of  the  apostles  ;  it  commands 
them  to  preach  the  gospel,  and  to  administer  the  sacraments. 
Hence  we  conclude,  that  those  who  neglect  both  these  duties 
have  no  just  pretensions  to  the  character  of  apostles.  But  what 
shall  we  say  of  pastors  ?  Paul  speaks  not  only  of  himself,  but  of 
all  who  bear  that  office,  when  he  says,  "  Let  a  man  so  account 
of  us,  as  of  the  ministers  of  Christ,  and  stewards  of  the  mysteries 
of  God."  (o)  Again :  "  A  bishop  must  hold  fast  the  faithful  word 
as  he  hath  been  taught,  that  he  may  be  able,  by  sound  doctrine, 
both  to  exhort  and  to  convince  the  gainsay ers."  (p)  From  these 
and  similar  passages,  which  frequently  occur,  we  may  infer  that 
the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  and  the  administration  of  the  sacra- 
ments, constitute  the  two  principal  parts  of  the  pastoral  office. 
Now,  the  business  of  teaching  is  not  confined  to  public  discourses, 
but  extends  also  to  private  admonitions.  Thus  Paul  calls  upon 
the  Ephesians  to  witness  the  truth  of  his  declaration,  "  I  have  kept 
back  nothing  that  was  profitable  unto  you,  but  have  showed 
you,  and  have  taught  you  publicly,  and  from  house  to  house, 
testifying  both  to  the  Jews,  and  also  to  the  Greeks,  repentance 
toward  God,  and  faith  toward  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ."  And  a 
little  after  :  "  I  ceased  not  to  warn  every  one,  night  and  day,  with 
tears."  (</)  But  it  is  no  part  of  my  present  design,  to  enumerate 
all  the  excellences  of  a  good  pastor,  but  only  to  show  what  is 
implied  in  the  profession  of  those  who  call  themselves  pastors  ; 
namely,  that  they  preside  over  the  Church  in  that  station,  not 
that  they  may  enjoy  a  respectable  sinecm-e,  but  to  instruct  the 
people  in  true  piety  by  the  doctrine  of  Christ,  to  administer  the 
holy  mysteries,  to  maintain  and  exercise  proper  discipline.  For 
the  Lord  denounces  to  all  those  who  have  been  stationed  as 

{I)  Rom.  xvi.  7.  (n)  Luke  xxii.  19.  (p)  Titus  i.  7,  9. 

(m)  Matt,  xxviii.  19.  (o)  1  Cor.  iv.  1.  (5)  Acts  xx.  20,  21,  31. 


watchmen  in  the  Church,  that  if  any  one  perish  in  ignorance 
thiough  their  negligence,  he  will  require  the  blood  of  such  a 
person  at  their  hands,  (r)  What  Paul  says  of  himself,  belongs 
to  them  all  :  "  Woe  is  umo  me,  if  I  preach  not  the  gospel,"  be- 
cause "  a  dispensation  of  the  gospel  is  committed  unto  me."  (s) 
Lastly,  what  the  apostles  did  for  the  whole  world,  that  every 
individual  pastor  ought  to  do  for  his  flock  to  which  he  is 

VII.  While  we  assign  to  them  all  respectively  their  distinct 
Churches,  yet  we  do  not  deny  thatapastor,  who  is  connected  with 
one  Church,  may  assist  others,  either  when  any  disputes  arise, 
which  may  require  his  presence,  or  when  his  advice  is  asked 
upon  any  difficult  subject.  But  because,  in  order  to  preserve 
the  peace  of  the  Church,  there  is  a  necessity  for  such  a  regulation 
as  shall  clearly  define  to  every  one  what  duty  he  has  to  do,  lest 
they  should  all  fall  into  disorder,  run  hither  and  thither  in  un- 
certainty without  any  call,  and  all  resort  to  one  place  ;  and  lest 
those  who  feel  more  solicitude  for  their  personal  accommodation 
than  for  the  edification  of  the  Church,  should,  Avithout  any 
cause  but  their  own  caprice,  leave  the  Churches  destitute,  — 
this  distribution  ought  as  far  as  possible  to  be  generally  observed, 
that  every  one  may  be  content  with  his  own  limits,  and  not 
invade  the  province  of  another.  Nor  is  this  an  invention  of 
men,  but  an  institution  of  God  himself.  For  we  read  that  Paul 
and  Barnabas  "  ordained  elders  in  the  respective  Churches  of 
Lystra,  Iconium,  and  Antioch  ;  "  (t)  and  Paul  himself  directed 
Titus  to  "ordain  elders  in  every  city."  (v)  So  in  other  pas- 
sages he  mentions  "  the  bishops  at  Philippi,"  (iv)  and  Archippus, 
the  bishop  of  the  Colossians.  {:v)  And  a  remarkable  speech 
of  his  is  preserved  by  Luke,  addressed  to  "  the  elders  of  the 
Church  of  Ephesus."  (y)  Whoever,  therefore,  has  undertaken 
the  government  and  charge  of  one  Church,  let  him  know  that 
he  is  bound  to  this  law  of  the  Divine  call ;  not  that  he  is  fixed 
to  his  station  so  as  never  to  be  permitted  to  leave  it  in  a  regular 
and  orderly  manner,  if  the  public  benefit  should  require  it ;  but 
he  who  has  been  called  to  one  place,  ought  never  to  think  either 
of  departing  from  his  situation,  or  relinquishing  the  office  alto- 
gether, from  any  motive  of  personal  convenience  or  advantage. 
But  if  it  be  expedient  that  he  should  remove  to  another  station, 
he  ought  not  to  attempt  this  on  his  own  private  opinion,  but  to 
be  guided  by  public  authority. 

VIII.  In  calling  those  who  preside  over  Churches  by  the  appel- 
lations of  bishops,  elders,  pastors,  and  ministers,  without  any  dis- 

(r)  Ezek.  iii.  17,  18.  (v)  Titus  i.  5.  (x)  Col.  iv.  17. 

(5)  1  Cor.  ix.  16,  17.  {ic)  Phil.  i.  1.  (y)  Acts  xx.  17,  &c. 

(t)  Acts  xiv.  21,  23. 

VOL.  II.  34 

266  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV« 

tinction,  I  have  followed  the  usage  of  the  Scripture,  which  applies 
all  these  terms  to  express  the  same  meaning.  For  to  all  who 
discharge  the  ministry  of  the  word,  it  gives  the  title  of  "  bishops." 
So  when  Paul  enjoins  Titus  to  "  ordain  elders  in  every  city," 
he  immediately  adds,  "For  a  bishop  must  be  blameless."  (2;) 
So  in  another  Epistle  he  salutes  more  bishops  than  one  in  one 
Church,  {a)  And  in  the  Acts  he  is  declared  to  have  sent  for 
the  elders  of  the  Church  of  Ephesus,  whom,  in  his  address  to 
them,  he  calls  "  bishops."  {b)  Here  it  must  be  observed,  that 
we  have  enumerated  only  those  offices  which  consist  in  the 
ministry  of  the  word  ;  nor  does  Paul  mention  any  other  in  the 
fourth  chapter  of  the  Epistle  to  the  Ephesians,  which  we  have 
quoted.  But  in  the  Epistle  to  the  Romans,  and  the  First  Epis- 
tle to  the  Corinthians,  he  enumerates  others,  as  "  powers," 
"  gifts  of  healing,"  "  interpretation  of  tongues,"  "  governments," 
"  care  of  the  poor."  (c)  Those  functions  which  were  merely 
temporary,  I  omit,  as  foreign  to  our  present  subject.  But  there 
are  two  which  perpetually  remain —  "  government,"  and  "the 
care  of  the  poor."  "Governors"  I  apprehend  to  have  been 
persons  of  advanced  years,  selected  from  the  people,  to  unite 
with  the  bishops  in  giving  admonitions  and  exercising  disci- 
pline. For  no  other  interpretation  can  be  given  of  that  injunc- 
tion, "  He  that  ruleth,  let  him  do  it  with  diligence."  ((/)  There- 
fore, from  the  beginning,  every  Church  has  had  its  senate  or  coun- 
cil, composed  of  pious,  grave,  and  holy  men,  who  were  invested 
with  that  jurisdiction  in  the  correction  of  vices,  of  which  we 
shall  soon  treat.  Now,  that  this  regulation  was  not  of  a  single 
age,  experience  itself  demonstrates.  This  office  of  government 
is  necessary,  therefore,  in  every  age. 

IX.  The  care  of  the  poor  was  committed  to  the  "deacons." 
The  Epistle  to  the  Romans,  however,  mentions  two  functions 
of  this  kind.  "  He  that  giveth,"  says  the  apostle,  "let  him  do 
it  with  simplicity  :  he  that  showeth  mercy,  with  cheerful- 
ness." (e)  Now,  as  it  is  certain  that  he  there  speaks  of  the 
public  offices  of  the  Church,  it  follows  that  there  were  two 
distinct  orders  of  deacons.  Unless  my  judgment  deceive  me, 
the  former  clause  refers  to  the  deacons  who  administered  the 
alms  ;  and  the  other  to  those  who  devoted  themselves  to  the 
care  of  poor  and  sick  persons  ;  such  as  the  widows  mentioned 
by  Paul  to  Timothy.  (/)  For  women  could  execute  no  other 
public  office,  than  by  devoting  themselves  to  the  service  of  the 
poor.  If  we  admit  this,  — and  it  ought  to  be  fully  admitted,  — 
there  will  be  two  classes  of  deacons,  of  whom  one  will  serve 

(:)  Titus  i   5,  7.  («)  Phil.  i.  1.  (t)  Acts  xx.  17,  28,  iiriaxoTtov?. 

(f)    1  Cor.  xii.  28,  Svruun:,  xaqm^iara  tauarwv,  yert]  yXwaaixir,  xii/?f()i»;flfic. 

(rf)   Rom.  xii.   8.     (c)  Rom.  xii.  8,  titrci^iSovs,  fv  unXoriin,  6  iXtwr,  tv  iXaQorijri. 

(/)  1  Tim.  V.  9,  10. 


the  Church  in  dispensing  the  property  given  to  the  poor,  the 
other  in  taking  care  of  the  poor  themselves.  —  Though  the 
word  itself  (Siaxovia)  is  of  more  extensive  signification,  yet  the 
Scripture  particularly  gives  the  title  of  "  deacons "  to  those 
whom  the  Church  has  appointed  to  dispense  the  alms  and  take 
care  of  the  poor,  and  constituted  stewards,  as  it  were,  of  the 
common  treasury  of  the  poor  ;  and  whose  origin,  institution, 
and  oilice,  are  described  in  the  Acts  of  the  Apostles.  For 
"  when  there  arose  a  murmuring  of  the  Grecians  against  the 
Hebrews  because  their  widows  were  neglected  in  the  daily 
ministration,"  (g)  the  apostles  pleaded  their  inability  to  dis- 
charge both  offices,  of  the  ministry  of  the  word  and  the  service 
of  tables,  and  said  to  the  multitude,  "  Wherefore,  brethren,  look 
ye  out  among  you  seven  men  of  honest  report,  full  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  and  wisdom,  whom  we  may  appoint  over  this  business." 
See  what  were  the  characters  of  the  deacons  in  the  apostolic 
Church,  and  what  ought  to  be  the  characters  of  ours,  in  con- 
formity to  the  primitive  example. 

X.  Now,  as  "  all  things  "  in  the  Church  are  required  to  "  be 
done  decently  and  in  order,"  (h)  there  is  nothing  in  which  this 
ought  to  be  more  diligently  observed,  than  the  constitution  of 
its  government ;  because  there  would  be  more  danger  from 
disorder  in  this  case  than  in  any  other.  Therefore,  that  rest- 
less and  turbulent  persons  may  not  presumptuously  intrude 
themselves  into  the  office  of  teaching  or  of  governing,  it  is 
expressly  provided,  that  no  one  shall  assume  a  public  office 
in  the  Church  without  a  call.  In  order,  therefore,  that  any 
one  may  be  accounted  a  true  minister  of  the  Church,  it  is  ne- 
cessary, in  the  first  place,  that  he  be  regularly  called  to  it,  and, 
in  the  second  place,  that  he  answer  his  call ;  that  is,  by  underta- 
king and  executing  the  office  assigned  to  him.  This  may  fre- 
quently be  observed  in  Paul ;  who,  when  he  wishes  to  prove 
his  apostleship,  almost  always  alleges  his  call,  together  with 
his  fidelity  in  the  execution  of  the  office.  If  so  eminent  a 
minister  of  Christ  dare  not  arrogate  to  himself  an  authority  to 
require  his  being  heard  in  the  Church,  but  in  consequence  of 
his  appointment  to  it  by  a  Divine  commission,  and  his  faithful 
discharge  of  the  duty  assigned  him,  —  what  extreme  impudence 
must  it  be,  if  any  man,  destitute  of  both  these  characters, 
should  claim  such  an  honour  for  himself!  But  having  already 
spoken  of  the  necessity  of  discharging  the  office,  let  us  now 
confine  ourselves  to  the  call. 

XI.  Now,  the  discussion  of  this  subject  includes  four 
branches  :  what  are  the  qualifications  of  ministers  ;  in  what 
manner  they  are  to  be  chosen  ;  by   whom  they  ought  to  be 

(g)  Acta  vi.  1—3.  (/t)  1  Cor.  xiv.  40. 

268  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

appointed ;  and  with  what  rite  or  ceremony  they  are  to  be  in- 
troduced into  their  office.  I  speak  of  the  external  and  solemn 
call,  which  belongs  to  the  public  order  of  the  Church  ;  passing 
over  that  secret  call,  of  which  every  minister  is  conscious  to 
himself  before  God,  but  which  is  not  known  to  the  Church. 
This  secret  call,  however,  is  the  honest  testimony  of  our  heart, 
that  we  accept  the  office  offered  to  us,  not  from  ambition  or 
avarice,  or  any  other  unlawful  motive,  but  from  a  sincere  fear 
of  God,  and  an  ardent  zeal  for  the  edification  of  the  Church. 
This,  as  I  have  hinted,  is  indispensable  to  every  one  of  us,  if 
we  would  approve  our  ministry  in  the  sight  of  God.  In  the 
view  of  the  Church,  however,  he  who  enters  on  his  office  with 
an  evil  conscience,  is  nevertheless  duly  called,  provided  his  ini- 
quity be  not  discovered.  It  is  even  common  to  speak  of  pri- 
vate persons  as  called  to  the  ministry,  who  appear  to  be  adapted 
and  qualified  for  the  discharge  of  its  duties;  because  learning, 
connected  with  piety  and  other  endowments  of  a  good  pastor, 
constitutes  a  kind  of  preparation  for  it.  For  those  whom  the 
Lord  has  destined  to  so  important  an  office,  he  first  furnishes 
with  those  talents  which  are  requisite  to  its  execution,  that 
they  may  not  enter  upon  it  empty  and  unprepared.  Hence 
Paul,  in  his  Epistle  to  the  Corinthians,  when  he  intended  to 
treat  of  the  offices  themselves,  first  enumerated  the  gifts  which 
ought  to  be  possessed  by  the  persons  who  sustain  those  offices.  (^) 
But  as  this  is  the  first  of  the  four  points  which  I  have  proposed, 
let  us  now  proceed  to  it. 

XII.  The  qualifications  of  those  who  ought  to  be  chosen 
bishops,  are  stated  at  large  by  Paul  in  two  passages,  (k)  The 
sum  of  all  he  says  is,  that  none  are  to  be  chosen  but  men  of 
sound  doctrine  and  a  holy  life,  not  chargeable  with  any  fault 
that  may  destroy  their  authority,  or  disgrace  their  ministry. 
The  same  rule  is  laid  down  for  the  deacons  and  governors. 
Constant  care  is  required,  that  they  be  not  unequal  to  the  bur- 
den imposed  upon  them,  or,  in  other  words,  that  they  be  en- 
dowed with  those  talents  which  are  necessary  to  the  discharge 
of  their  duty.  So,  when  Christ  was  about  to  send  forth  his 
apostles,  he  furnished  them  with  such  means  and  powers  as 
were  indispensable  to  their  success.  (Z)  And  Paul,  after  having 
delineated  the  character  of  a  good  and  genuine  bishop,  admo- 
nishes Timothy  not  to  contaminate  himself  by  the  appointment 
of  any  one  of  a  different  description,  (m)  The  question  rela- 
ting to  the  manner  in  which  they  are  to  be  chosen,  I  refer  not 
to  the  form  of  election,  but  to  the  religious  awe  which  ouglit 
to  be   observed   in  it.     Hence  the   fasting  and  prayer,   which 

(i)  1 

Cor.  xii.  7,  &c.  (?)  Luke  xxi.  15;  xxiv.  49.     Acts  i.  8. 

Tim.  iii.  1,  &c.  Titus  i.  7,  &c.  (hi)  1  Tim.  v.  22. 


Luke  states  to  have  been  practised  by  the  faithful  at  the  ordina- 
tion of  elders.  (ii)  For  knowing  themselves  to  be  engaged  in  a 
business  of  the  highest  importance,  they  dared  not  attempt  any 
thing  but  with  the  greatest  reverence  and  solicitude.  And 
above  all  things,  they  were  earnest  in  prayers  and  supplications 
to  God  for  the  spirit  of  wisdom  and  discretion. 

XIII.  The  third  inquiry  we  proposed  was,  by  whom  minis- 
ters are  to  be  chosen.  Now,  for  this  no  certain  rule  can  be 
gathered  from  the  appointment  of  the  apostles,  which  was  a  case 
somewhat  different  from  the  common  call  of  other  ministers. 
For  as  theirs  was  an  extraordinary  office,  it  was  necessary,  in 
order  to  render  it  conspicuous  by  some  eminent  character,  that 
they  who  were  to  sustain  it  should  be  called  and  appointed  by  the 
mouth  of  the  Lord  himself.  The  apostles,  therefore,  entered  upon 
their  work,  not  in  consequence  of  any  human  election,  but  em- 
powered by  the  sole  command  of  God  and  of  Christ.  Hence, 
when  they  wish  to  substitute  another  in  the  place  of  Judas, 
they  refrain  from  a  certain  appointment  of  any  one,  but  nomi- 
nate two,  that  the  Lord  may  declare  by  lot  which  of  them  he 
wills  to  be  his  successor,  (o)  In  the  same  sense  must  be 
understood  the  declaration  of  Paul,  that  he  had  been  created 
"  an  apostle,  not  of  men,  neither  by  man,  but  by  Jesus  Christ, 
and  God  the  Father."  (p)  The  first  clause,  not  of  men,  was 
applicable  to  him  in  common  with  all  pious  ministers  of  the 
word  ;  for  no  man  can  lawfully  exercise  this  ministry  without 
having  been  called  by  God.  The  other  clause  was  special  and 
peculiar  to  himself  When  he  glories  in  this,  therefore,  he 
not  only  claims  what  belongs  to  a  true  and  lawful  pastor, 
but  likewise  brings  forward  an  evidence  of  his  apostleship. 
For  whereas  there  were,  among  the  Galatians,  some  who,  from 
an  eagerness  to  diminish  his  authority,  represented  him  as  a 
common  disciple  deputed  by  the  primary  apostles, —  in  order  to 
vindicate  the  dignity  of  his  preaching,  against  which  he  knew 
these  artifices  were  directed,  he  found  it  necessary  to  show 
that  he  was  not  inferior  to  the  other  apostles  in  any  respect. 
Wherefore  he  affirms,  that  he  had  not  been  elected  by  the  judg- 
ment of  men,  like  some  ordinary  bishop,  but  by  the  mouth  and 
clear  revelation  of  the  Lord  himself 

XIV.  But  that  the  election  and  appointment  of  bishops  by 
men  is  necessary  to  constitute  a  legitimate  call  to  the  office,  no 
sober  person  will  deny,  while  there  are  so  many  testimonies  of 
Scripture  to  establish  it.  Nor  is  it  contradicted  by  that  declara- 
tion of  Paul,  that  he  was  ''an  apostle,  not  of  men,  nor  byman,"  (q) 
since  he  is  not  speaking  in  that  passage  of  the  ordinary  election  of 
ministers,  but  claiming  to  himself  what  was  the  special  privilege 

(7i)  Acts  xiv.  23.  (o)  Acts  i.  23.  (;^)  Gal.  i.  1.  (q)Ga.\.i.l 

270  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

of  the  apostles.  The  immediate  designation  of  Paul,  by  the 
Lord  himself,  to  this  peculiar  privilege,  was  nevertheless  accom- 
panied with  the  form  of  an  ecclesiastical  call,  for  Luke  states, 
that  ''As  they  ministered  to  the  Lord,  and  fasted,  the  Holy 
Ghost  said,  Separate  me  Barnabas  and  Saul  for  the  work  where- 
unto  I  have  called  them."  (;-)  What  end  could  be  answered  by 
this  separation  and  imposition  of  hands  after  the  Holy  Spirit  had 
testified  their  election,  unless  it  was  the  preservation  of  the  order 
of  the  Church  in  designating  ministers  by  men  ?  God  could 
not  sanction  that  order,  therefore,  by  a  more  illustrious  example 
than  when,  after  having  declared  that  he  had  constituted  Paul 
the  apostle  of  the  Gentiles,  he  nevertheless  directed  him  to  be 
designated  by  the  Church.  The  same  may  be  observed  in  the 
election  of  Matthias,  (s)  For  the  apostolic  office  being  of  such 
high  importance  that  they  could  not  venture  to  fill  up  their  num- 
ber by  the  choice  of  any  one  person  from  their  own  judgment, 
they  appointed  two,  one  of  whom  was  to  be  chosen  by  lot  ; 
that  so  the  election  might  obtain  a  positive  sanction  from  Heaven, 
and  yet  that  the  order  of  the  Church  might  not  be  altogether 

XV,  Here  it  is  inquired,  whether  a  minister  ought  to  be 
chosen  by  the  whole  Church,  or  only  by  the  other  ministers 
and  the  elders  who  preside  over  the  discipline,  or  whether  he 
may  be  appointed  by  the  authority  of  an  individual.  Those 
who  attribute  this  right  to  any  one  man,  quote  what  Paul  says  to 
Titus  :  "  For  this  cause  I  left  thee  in  Crete,  that  thou  shouldst 
ordain  elders  in  every  city ;  "  {t)  and  to  Timothy:  "  Lay  hands 
suddenly  on  no  man."  {v)  But  they  are  exceedingly  mis- 
taken, if  they  suppose  that  either  Timothy  at  Ephesus,  or 
Titus  in  Crete,  exercised  a  sovereign  power  to  regulate  every 
thing  according  to  his  own  pleasure.  For  they  presided  over 
the  people,  only  to  lead  them  by  good  and  salutary  counsels,  not 
to  act  alone  to  the  exclusion  of  all  others.  But  that  this  may 
not  be  thought  to  be  an  invention  of  mine,  I  will  prove  it  by  a 
similar  example.  For  Luke  relates,  that  elders  were  ordained 
in  the  Churches  by  Paul  and  Barnabas,  but  at  the  same  time  he 
distinctly  marks  the  manner  in  which  this  was  done,  — namely, 
by  the  suffrages  or  votes  of  the  people  ;  for  this  is  the  meaning 
of  the  term  he  there  employs  —  p(;tipoTovr)rfc(VTeg  ^^erfguTs^ouj  mT  hxkri- 
rfiav.  [id)  Those  two  apostles,  therefore,  ordained  them  ;  but  the 
■whole  multitude,  according  to  the  custom  observed  in  elections 
among  the  Greeks,  declared  by  the  elevation  of  their  hands 
who  was  the  object  of  their  choice.  So  the  Roman  historians 
frequently  speak  of  the  consul,  who  held   the  assemblies,  as 

(r)  Acts  xiii.  2.  {s)  Acts  i.  23.  (0  Titus  i.  5. 

(»)  1  Tim.  V.  22.  (?r)  Acts  xiv.  23. 


appointing  the  new  magistrates,  for  no  other  reason  but  because 
he  received  the  suffrages  and  presided  at  the  election.  Surely 
it  is  not  credible  that  Paul  grained  to  Timothy  and  Titus  more 
power  than  he  assumed  to  himself ;  but  we  see  that  he  was  accus- 
tomed to  ordain  bishops  according  to  the  suffrages  of  the  people. 
The  above  passages,  therefore,  ought  to  be  understood  in  the 
same  manner,  to  guard  against  all  infringement  of  the  common 
right  and  liberty  of  the  Church.  It  is  a  good  remark,  therefore, 
of  Cyprian,  when  he  contends,  "  that  it  proceeds  from  Divine 
authority,  that  a  priest  should  be  elected  publicly  in  the  presence 
of  all  the  people,  and  that  he  should  be  approved  as  a  worthy 
and  fit  person  by  the  public  judgment  and  testimony."  In  the 
case  of  the  Levitical  priests,  we  find  it  was  commanded  by  the 
Lord,  that  they  should  be  brought  forward  in  the  view  of  the 
people  before  their  consecration.  Nor  was  Matthias  added  to 
the  number  of  the  apostles,  nor  were  the  seven  deacons  appoint- 
ed, without  the  presence  and  approbation  of  the  people.  — 
"  These  examples,"  says  Cyprian,  "  show  that  the  ordination 
of  a  priest  ought  not  to  be  performed  but  with  the  knowledge 
and  concurrence  of  the  people,  in  order  that  the  election 
which  shall  have  been  examined  by  the  testimony  of  all,  may 
be  just  and  legitimate."  We  find,  therefore,  that  it  is  a  legiti- 
mate ministry  according  to  the  word  of  God,  when  those  who 
appear  suitable  persons  are  appointed  with  the  consent  and  ap- 
probation of  the  people  ;  but  that  other  pastors  ought  to  preside 
over  the  election,  to  guard  the  multitude  from  falling  into  any 
improprieties,  through  inconstancy,  intrigue,  or  confusion. 

XVI.  There  remains  the  Form  of  ordination,  which  is  the  last 
point  that  we  have  mentioned  relative  to  the  call  of  ministers. 
Now,  it  appears  that  when  the  apostles  introduced  any  one  into 
the  ministry,  they  used  no  other  ceremony  than  imposition  of 
hands.  This  rite,  I  believe,  descended  from  the  custom  of  the 
Hebrews,  Avho,  when  they  wished  to  bless  and  consecrate  any 
thing,  presented  it  to  God  by  imposition  of  hands.  Thus,  when 
Jacob  blessed  Ephraim  andManasseh,  he  laid  his  hands  upon  their 
heads,  {x)  This  custom  was  followed  by  our  Lord,  when  he 
prayed  over  infants,  {y)  It  was  with  the  same  design,  I  appre- 
hend, that  the  Jews  were  directed  in  the  law  to  lay  their  hands 
upon  their  sacrifices.  Wherefore  the  imposition  of  the  hands 
of  the  apostles  was  an  indication  that  they  offered  to  God  the 
person  whom  they  introduced  into  the  ministry.  They  used 
the  same  ceremony  over  those  on  whom  they  conferred  the 
visible  gifts  of  the  Spirit.  But,  be  that  as  it  may,  this  was 
the  solemn  rite  invariably  practised,  whenever  any  one  was 
called  to   the  ministry  of  the  Church.     Thus  they  ordained 

(z)  Gen.  xlviii.  14.  {y)  Matt.  xix.  15. 

272  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

pastors  and  teachers,  and  thus  they  ordained  deacons.  Now, 
though  there  is  no  express  precept  for  the  imposition  of  hands, 
yet  since  we  find  it  to  have  been  constantly  used  by  the 
apostles,  such  a  punctual  observance  of  it  by  them  ought  to 
have  the  force  of  a  precept  with  us.  And  certainly  this  ceremony 
is  highly  useful  both  to  recommend  to  the  people  the  dignity  of 
the  ministry,  and  to  admonish  the  person  ordained  that  he  is  no 
longer  his  own  master,  but  devoted  to  the  service  of  God  and 
the  Church.  Besides,  it  will  not  be  an  unmeaning  sign,  if  it  be 
restored  to  its  true  origin.  For  if  the  Spirit  of  God  institutes 
nothing  in  the  Church  in  vain,  we  shall  perceive  that  this 
ceremony,  which  proceeded  from  him,  is  not  without  its  use, 
provided  it  be  not  perverted  by  a  superstitious  abuse.  Finally, 
it  is  to  be  remarked,  that  the  imposition  of  hands  on  the  minis- 
ters was  not  the  act  of  the  whole  multitude,  but  was  confined 
to  the  pastors.  It  is  not  certain  whether  this  ceremony  was,  in 
all  cases,  performed  by  more  pastors  than  one,  or  whether  it 
was  ever  the  act  of  a  single  pastor.  The  former  appears  to  have 
been  the  fact  in  the  case  of  the  seven  deacons,  of  Paul  and  Bar- 
nabas, and  some  few  others,  (z)  But  Paul  speaks  of  himself  as 
having  laid  hands  upon  Timothy,  without  any  mention  of  many 
others  having  united  with  hrni.  "  I  put  thee  in  remembrance,  that 
thou  stir  up  the  gift  of  God  which  is  in  thee,  by  the  putting  on  of 
my  hands."  (a)  His  expression,  in  the  other  Epistle,  of  "the 
laying  on  of  the  hands  of  the  presbytery,"  (b)  I  apprehend  not 
to  signify  a  company  of  elders,  but  to  denote  the  ordination 
itself;  as  if  he  had  said.  Take  care  that  the  grace  which  thou 
receivedst  by  the  laying  on  of  hands,  when  I  ordained  thee  a 
presbyter,  be  not  in  vain. 


THE    STATE    OF    THE    ANCIENT    CHURCH,    AND    THE    MODE    OF 

Hitherto  we  have  treated  of  the  mode  of  government  in 
the  Church,  as  it  has  been  delivered  to  us  by  the  pure  word  of 
God,  and  of  the  offices  in  it,  as  they  were  instituted  by  Christ, 
Now,  that  all  these  things  may  be  more  clearly  and  familiarly 
displayed,  and  more  deeply  impressed  upon  our  minds,  it  will 
be  useful  to  examine  what  was  the  form  of  the  ancient  Church, 
in   these  particulars.     It  will  place  before  our  eyes  an  actual 

(2)  Acts  vi.  6;  xiii.  3.  («)  2  Tim.  i.  6  (b)  1  Tim.  iv.  14. 


exemplification  of  the  Divine  institution.  For  though  the 
bishops  of  those  times  pubUshed  many  canons,  in  which  they 
seemed  to  express  more  than  had  been  expressed  in  the  Holy 
Scriptures,  yet  they  were  so  cautious  in  framing  their  whole 
economy  according  to  the  sole  standard  of  the  word  of  God,  that 
in  this  respect  scarcely  any  thing  can  be  detected  among  them 
inconsistent  with  that  word.  But  though  there  might  be  some- 
thing to  be  regretted  in  their  regulations,  yet  because  they  direct- 
ed their  sincere  and  zealous  etforts  to  preserve  the  institution  of 
God,  without  deviating  from  it  to  any  considerable  extent,  it  will 
be  highly  useful  in  this  place  to  give  a  brief  sketch  of  what  their 
practice  was.  As  we  have  stated  that  there  are  three  kinds  of 
ministers  recommended  to  us  in  the  Scripture,  so  the  ancient 
Church  divided  all  the  ministers  it  had  into  three  orders.  For 
from  the  order  of  presbyters,  they  chose  some  for  pastors  and 
teachers  ;  the  others  presided  over  the  discipline  and  corrections. 
To  the  deacons  was  committed  the  care  of  the  poor  and  the  dis- 
tribution of  the  alms.  Readers  and  Acolytes  were  not  names  of 
certain  offices,  but  young  men,  to  whom  they  also  gave  the  name 
of  clergy,  whom  they  accustomed  from  their  youth  to  certain 
exercises  in  the  service  of  the  Church,  that  they  might  better  un- 
derstand to  what  they  were  destined,  and  might  enter  upon  their 
office  better  prepared  for  it  in  due  time  ;  as  1  shall  soon  show  more 
at  large.  Therefore  Jerome,  after  having  mentioned  five  orders 
of  the  Church,  enumerates  bishops,  presbyters,  deacons,  the 
faithful,  or  believers  at  large,  and  catechumens,  or  persons  who 
had  not  yet  been  baptized,  but  had  applied  for  instruction  in 
the  Christian  faith.  Thus  he  assigns  no  particular  place  to  the 
rest  of  the  clergy  and  the  monks. 

II.  All  those  to  whom  the  office  of  teaching  was  assigned, 
were  denominated  presbyters.  To  guard  against  dissension,  the 
general  consequence  of  equality,  the  presbyters  in  each  city 
chose  one  of  their  own  number,  whom  they  distinguished  by 
the  title  of  bishop.  The  bishop,  however,  was  not  so  superior 
to  the  rest  in  honour  and  dignity,  as  to  have  any  dominion  over 
his  colleagues  ;  but  the  functions  performed  by  a  consul  in  the 
senate,  such  as,  to  propose  things  for  consideration,  to  collect 
the  votes,  to  preside  over  the  rest  in  the  exercise  of  advice, 
admonition,  and  exhortation,  to  regulate  all  the  proceedings  by 
his  authority,  and  to  carry  into  execution  whatever  had  been 
decreed  by  the  general  voice  ;  —  such  were  the  functions  exer- 
cised by  the  bishop  in  the  assembly  of  the  presbyters.  And 
that  this  arrangement  was  introduced  by  human  agreement,  on 
account  of  the  necessity  of  the  times,  is  acknowledged  by  the 
ancient  writers  themselves.  Thus  Jerome,  on  the  Epistle  to 
Titus,  says,  "  A  presbyter  is  the  same  as  a  bishop.  And  before 
dissensions  in  religion  were  produced  by  the  instigation  of  the 
VOL.  11.  35 

274  NSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV 

devil,  and  one  said,  I  am  of  Paul,  and  another,  lam  of  Cephas, 
the  Churches  were  governed  by  a  common  council  of  presbyters. 
Afterwards,  in  order  to  destroy  the  seeds  of  dissensions,  the  whole 
charge  was  committed  to  one.  Therefore,  as  the  presbyters 
know  that  according  to  the  custom  of  the  Church  they  are 
subject  to  the  bishop  who  presides  over  them,  so  let  the 
bishops  know  that  their  superiority  to  the  presbyters  is  more  from 
custom  than  from  the  appointment  of  the  Lord,  and  they  ought 
to  unite  together  in  the  government  of  the  Church."  In  another 
place,  he  shows  the  antiquity  of  this  institution  ;  for  he  says, 
that  at  Alexandria,  even  from  Mark  the  Evangelist  to  Heraclas 
and  Dionysius,  the  presbyters  always  chose  one  of  their  body 
to  preside  over  them,  whom  they  called  their  bishop.  Every 
city,  therefore,  had  its  college  of  presbyters,  who  were  pastors 
and  teachers.  For  they  all  executed  the  duties  of  teaching, 
exhorting,  and  correcting,  among  the  people,  as  Paul  enjoins 
bishops  to  do  ;  (c)  and  in  order  to  leave  successors  behind  them, 
they  laboured  in  training  young  men,  who  had  enlisted  them- 
selves in  the  sacred  warfare.  To  every  city  was  assigned  a  cer- 
tain district,  which  received  presbyters  from  it,  and  was  reckoned 
as  a  part  of  that  Church.  Every  assembly,  as  I  have  stated,  for 
the  sole  purpose  of  preserving  order  and  peace,  was  under  the  di- 
rection of  one  bishop,  who,  while  he  had  the  precedence  of  all 
others  in  dignity,  was  himself  subject  to  the  assembly  of  the 
brethren.  If  the  territory  placed  under  his  episcopate  was  too 
extensive  to  admit  of  his  discharging  all  the  duties  of  a  bishop 
in  every  part  of  it,  presbyters  were  appointed  in  certain  stations, 
to  act  as  his  deputies  in  things  of  minor  importance.  These 
were  called  chorepiscopi,  ,pr  country  bishops,  because  in  the 
country  they  represented  the  bishop. 

III.  But  with  respect  to  the  office  of  which  we  are  now 
treating,  the  bishops  and  presbyters  were  equally  required  to 
employ  themselves  in  the  dispensation  of  the  word  and  sacra- 
ments. For  at  Alexandria  only,  because  Arius  had  disturbed 
the  Church  there,  it  was  ordained  that  no  presbyter  should 
preach  to  the  people ;  as  is  asserted  by  Socrates  in  the  ninth 
book  of  his  Tripartite  History,  with  which  Jerome  hesitates 
not  to  express  his  dissatisfaction.  It  would  certainly  have 
been  regarded  as  a  prodigy,  if  any  man  had  claimed  the  cha- 
racter of  a  bishop,  who  had  not  shown  himself  really  such  in 
his  conduct.  Such  was  the  strictness  of  those  times,  that  all 
ministers  were  constrained  to  discharge  the  duties  which  the 
Lord  requires  of  them.  I  refer  not  to  the  custom  of  one  age 
only  ;  for  even  in  the  time  of  Gregory,  when  the  Church  was 
almost  extinct,  or  at  least  had  considerably  degenerated  from 
its  ancient  purity,  it  w^ould  not  have  been  permitted  for  any 

(c)  Titus  i.  9. 


bishop  to  abstain  from  preaching.  Gregory  somewhere  says, 
"  A  priest  dies,  if  his  sound  be  not  heard  ;  {d)  for  he  provokes 
the  wrath  of  the  invisible  Judge  against  him,  if  he  go  without 
the  soui?d  of  preaching."  And  in  another  place:  "  When  Paul 
declares  that  he  is  '  pure  from  the  blood  of  all,'  (e)  by  this  decla- 
ration, we,  who  are  called  priests,  are  convicted,  confounded, 
and  declared  to  be  guilty,  who  to  all  our  own  crimes  add  the 
deaths  of  others ;  for  we  are  chargeable  with  slaying  all  those 
whom  we  daily  behold  advancing  to  death,  while  we  are  indif- 
ferent and  silent."  He  calls  himself  and  others  silent,  because 
they  were  less  assiduous  in  their  work  than  they  ought  to  be. 
Since  he  spares  not  those  who  performed  half  of  their  duty,  what 
is  it  probable  he  would  have  done,  if  any  one  had  neglected  it 
altogether  ?  It  was  therefore  long  maintained  in  the  Church, 
that  the  principal  office  of  a  bishop  was  to  feed  the  people  with 
the  word  of  God,  or  to  edify  the  Church  both  in  public  and 
private  with  sound  doctrine. 

IV.  The  establishment  of  one  archbishop  over  all  the  bishops 
of  each  province,  and  the  appointment  of  patriarchs  at  the 
Council  of  Nice,  with  rank  and  dignity  superior  to  the  arch- 
bishops, were  regulations  for  the  preservation  of  discipline.  In 
this  disquisition,  however,  what  was  of  the  least  frequent  use 
cannot  be  wholly  omitted.  The  principal  reason,  therefore,  for 
the  institution  of  these  orders  was,  that  if  any  thing  should 
take  place  in  any  Church  which  could  not  be  settled  by  a  few 
persons,  it  might  be  referred  to  a  provincial  synod.  If  the 
magnitude  or  difficulty  of  the  case  required  a  further  discussion, 
the  patriarchs  were  called  to  unite  with  the  synods ;  and  from 
them  there  could  be  no  appeal  but^o  a  general  council.  This 
constitution  of  government  some  called  a  hierarchy — a  name,  in 
my  opinion,  improper,  and  certainly  not  used  in  the  Scriptures. 
For  it  has  been  the  design  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  in  every  thing 
relating  to  the  government  of  the  Church,  to  guard  against 
any  dreams  of  principality  or  dominion.  But  if  we  look  at  the 
things  without  regarding  the  term,  we  shall  find  that  the  an- 
cient bishops  had  no  intention  of  contriving  a  form  of  govern- 
ment for  the  Church,  different  from  that  which  God  has  pre- 
scribed in  his  word. 

V.  Nor  was  the  situation  of  deacons  at  that  time  at  all  dif- 
ferent from  what  it  had  been  under  the  apostles.  For  they 
received  the  daily  contributions  of  believers  and  the  annual 
revenues  of  the  Church,  to  apply  them  to  their  proper  uses, 
that  is,  to  distribute  part  to  the  ministers,  and  part  for  the  sup- 
port of  the  poor ;  subject,  however,  to  the  authority  of  the 
bishop,  to  whom  they  also  rendered  an  account  of  their  admi- 

{d)  Exod.  xxxviii.  35.  (c)  Acts  xx.  26. 

^276  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

nistration  every  year.  For  when  the  canons  invariably  repre- 
sent the  bishop  as  the  dispenser  of  all  the  benefactions  of  the 
Church,  it  is  not  to  be  understood  as  if  he  executed  that  charge 
himself,  but  because  it  belonged  to  him  to  give  directions  to 
the  deacon,  who  were  to  be  entirely  supported  from  the  funds 
of  the  Church,  to  whom  the  remainder  was  to  be  distributed, 
and  in  what  proportion  to  each  person  ;  and  because  he  had 
the  superintendence  over  the  deacon,  to  examine  whether  he 
faithfully  discharged  his  office.  Thus  the  canons,  ascribed  to 
the  apostles,  contain  the  following  injunction  :  "  We  ordain 
that  the  bishop  do  have  the  property  of  the  Church  in  his 
own  power.  For  if  the  souls  of  men,  which  are  of  superior 
value,  have  been  intrusted  to  him,  there  is  far  greater  proprie- 
ty in  his  taking  charge  of  the  pecuniary  concerns ;  so  that  all 
things  may  be  distributed  to  the  poor  by  his  authority  through 
the  presbyters  and  deacons,  and  that  they  may  be  administered 
with  reverence,  and  all  concern."  And  in  the  Council  of  An- 
tioch  it  was  decreed,  that  those  bishops  should  be  censured 
who  managed  the  pecuniary  concerns  of  the  Church  without 
the  concurrence  of  the  presbyters  and  deacons.  But  it  is 
unnecessary  to  argue  this  point  any  further,  since  it  is  evident 
from  many  epistles  of  Gregory,  that  even  in  his  time, 
when  the  administration  of  the  Church  Avas  in  other  respects 
become  very  corrupt,  yet  this  custom  was  still  retained,  that 
the  deacons  were  the  stewards  for  the  relief  of  the  poor, 
under  the  authority  of  the  bishop.  It  is  probable  that  sub- 
deacons  were  at  first  attached  to  the  deacons,  to  assist  them 
in  transacting  the  business  of  the  poor ;  but  this  distinction 
was  soon  lost.  Archdeac(^is  were  first  erected  when  the  ex- 
tent of  the  property  required  a  new  and  more  accurate  mode 
of  administration ;  though  Jerome  states  that  there  were  such 
offices  even  in  his  time.  In  their  hands  was  placed  the  amount 
of  the  annual  revenues,  of  the  possessions,  and  of  the  house- 
hold furniture,  and  the  management  of  the  daily  contributions. 
Whence  Gregory  denounces  to  the  archdeacon  of  Thessalo- 
nica,  that  he  would  be  held  guilty,  if  any  of  the  property  of  the 
Church  should  be  lost  by  him,  either  through  negligence  or 
fraud.  Their  appointment  to  read  the  gospel,  and  to  exhort 
the  people  to  pray,  and  their  admission  to  the  administration  of 
the  cup  in  the  sacred  supper,  were  intended  to  dignify  their 
office,  that  they  might  discharge  it  with  the  more  piety,  in 
consequence  of  being  admonished  by  such  ceremonies,  that 
they  were  not  executing  some  profane  stewardship,  but  that 
their  function  was  spiritual  and  dedicated  to  God. 

VI.  Hence  it  is  easy  to  judge  what  use  was  made  of  the 
property  of  the  Church,  and  in  what  manner  it  was  dispensed. 
We  often  find  it  stated,  both  in  the  decrees  of  the  councils,  and 


by  the  ancient  writers,  that  whatever  the  Church  possessed, 
whether  in  lands  or  in  money,  was  the  patrimony  of  the  poor. 
The  bishops  and  deacons,  therefore,  are  continually  reminded 
that  they  are  not  managing  their  own  treasures,  but  those  des- 
tined to  supply  the  necessity  of  the  poor,  which  if  they  un- 
faithfully withhold  or  embezzle,  they  will  be  guilty  of  murder. 
Hence  they  are  admonished  to  distribute  this  property  to  the 
parties  entitled  to  it,  with  the  greatest  caution  and  reverence, 
as  in  the  sight  of  God,  and  without  respect  of  persons.  Hence 
also  the  solemn  protestations  of  Chrysostom,  Ambrose,  Augus- 
tine, and  other  bishops,  assuring  the  people  of  their  integrity. 
Now,  since  it  is  perfectly  equitable,  and  sanctioned  by  the  law 
of  the  Lord,  that  those  who  are  employed  in  the  service  of 
the  Church  should  be  maintained  at  the  public  expense  of  the 
Church,  —  and  even  in  that  age  some  presbyters  consecrated 
their  patrimonies  to  God,  and  reduced  themselves  to  voluntary 
poverty,  —  the  distribution  was  such,  that  neither  were  the  mi- 
nisters left  without  support,  nor  were  the  poor  neglected.  Yet, 
at  the  same  time,  care  was  taken  that  the  ministers  themselves, 
who  ought  to  set  an  example  of  frugality  to  others,  should  not 
have  enough  to  be  abused  to  the  purposes  of  splendour  or  deli- 
cacy, but  only  what  would  suffice  to  supply  their  necessities. 
"For,"  says  Jerome,  "those  of  the  clergy  who  are  able  to 
maintain  themselves  from  their  own  patrimony,  if  they  take 
what  belongs  to  the  poor,  are  guilty  of  sacrilege,  and  by  such 
an  abuse,  they  eat  and  drink  judgment  to  themselves." 

Vn.  At  first  the  administration  was  free  and  voluntary,  the 
bishops  and  deacons  acting  with  spontaneous  fidelity,  and  integ- 
rity of  conscience  and  innocence  of  life  supplying  the  place  of 
laws.  Afterwards,  when  the  cupidity  or  corrupt  dispositions 
of  some  gave  birth  to  evil  examples,  in  order  to  correct  these 
abuses,  canons  were  made,  which  divided  the  revenues  of  the 
Church  into  four  parts,  assigning  the  first  to  the  clergy,  the 
second  to  the  poor,  the  third  to  the  reparation  of  Churches  and 
other  buildings,  the  fourth  to  poor  strangers.  For,  though 
other  canons  assign  this  last  part  to  the  bishop,  this  forms  no 
variation  from  the  division  which  I  have  mentioned.  For  the 
intention  was,  that  it  should  be  appropriated  to  him,  neither 
for  his  own  exclusive  consumption,  nor  for  lavish  or  arbitrary 
distribution,  but  to  enable  him  to  support  the  hospitality  which 
Paid  requires  of  persons  in  that  office.  (/)  And  so  it  is  ex- 
plained by  Gelasius  and  Gregory.  For  Gelasius  adduces 
no  other  reason  why  the  bishop  should  claim  any  thing  for 
himself,  than  to  enable  him  to  communicate  to  captives  and 
strangers.     And  Gregory  is  still  more  explicit.     He  says,  "  It 

(/)  1  Tim.  iu.  2,  3. 

278  INSTITUTES    OF    THE  [bOOK    IV. 

is  the  custom  of  the  apostolic  see,  at  the  ordination  of  a  bishop, 
to  command  him  that  all  the  revenue  received  by  him  be 
divided  into  four  portions  ;  namely,  one  for  the  bishop  and  his 
family,  for  the  support  of  hospitality  and  entertainment  ;  the 
second  for  the  clergy ;  the  third  for  the  poor  ;  the  fourth  for  the 
reparation  of  Churches."  It  was  unlawful  for  the  bishop, 
therefore,  to  take  for  his  own  use  any  thing  more  than  was 
sufficient  for  moderate  and  frugal  sustenance  and  clothing.  If 
any  one  began  to  transgress  the  due  limits,  either  in  luxury,  or 
in  ostentation  and  pomp,  he  was  immediately  admonished  by 
his  colleagues ;  and  if  he  would  not  comply  with  the  admoni- 
tion, he  was  deposed  from  his  office. 

VIII,  The  portion  which  they  applied  to  ornament  the 
sacred  edifices,  at  first  was  very  small ;  and  even  after  the 
Church  was  become  a  little  more  wealthy,  they  did  not  exceed 
moderation  in  this  respect :  whatever  money  was  so  employed, 
still  continued  to  be  held  in  reserve  for  the  poor,  if  any  pressing 
necessity  should  occur.  Thus,  when  famine  prevailed  in  the 
province  of  Jerusalem,  and  there  was  no  other  way  of  relieving 
their  wants,  Cyril  sold  the  vessels  and  vestments,  and  expend- 
ed the  produce  in  purchasing  sustenance  for  the  poor.  In  like 
manner,  when  vast  numbers  of  the  Persians  were  almost  pe- 
rishing with  hunger,  Acatius,  bishop  of  Amida,  after  having 
convoked  his  clergy,  and  made  that  celebrated  speech,  "  Our 
God  has  no  need  of  dishes  or  cups,  because  he  neither  eats  nor 
drinks,"  melted  down  the  vessels,  and  converted  them  into 
money,  to  redeem  the  wretched,  and  buy  food  for  them.  Je- 
rome also,  while  he  inveighs  against  the  excessive  splendour 
of  the  temples,  makes  honourable  mention  of  Exuperius,  at  that 
time  bishop  of  Thoulouse,  who  administered  the  emblem  of 
our  Lord's  body  in  a  wicker  basket,  and  the  emblem  of  his 
blood  in  a  glass,  but  sui!ered  no  poor  person  to  endure  hunger. 
The  same  that  I  have  just  said  of  Acatius,  Ambrose  relates  of 
hinjself ;  for  when  he  was  censured  by  the  Arians  for  having 
broken  up  the  sacred  vessels  to  pay  the  ransom  of  some  cap- 
tives, he  made  the  following  most  excellent  defence  :  "He  who 
sent  forth  the  apostles  without  gold,  gathered  Churches  to- 
gether likewise  without  gold.  The  Church  has  gold,  not  to 
keep,  but  to  expend,  and  to  furnish  relief  in  necessities.  What 
need  is  there  to  keep  that  which  is  of  no  service  ?  Do  not  we 
know  how  much  gold  and  silver  the  Assyrians  plundered  from 
the  temple  of  the  Lord  ?  Is  it  not  better  that  it  should  be 
melted  down  by  the  priest  for  the  sustenance  of  the  poor,  if 
other  resources  are  wanting,  than  that  it  should  be  carried  away 
by  a  sacrilegious  enemy?  Will  not  the  Lord  say.  Wherefore 
hast  thou  suffered  so  many  poor  to  die  with  hunger,  and  at  the 
same  time  hadst  gold,  with  which  thou  mightest  have  supplied 


them  with  food  ?  Why  have  so  many  been  carried  away